April is filled with holidays honoring our animal companions. There are enough that I’m going to write multiple posts to cover all of them. The three dates in this post are dedicated to pet owners, pets themselves, and young people.
April 11: National Pet Day
From the founder of Puppy Day comes National Pet Day. Started in 2005 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert, Colleen Paige, April 11 celebrates the joy that pets bring to our lives. Below are some of the many ways to honor our pets on their special day:
- Have a National Pet Day party and celebrate all your pets!
- Take your dog to a Yappy Hour. Many pet bakeries celebrate dogs and their people with a regular Yappy Hour. It’s a social time that usually includes treats of some kind. To find a participating pet bakery near you, Google “Yappy Your + your town” or call a local store to inquire if they’re hosting one.
- Give your cat the gift of catnip. A member of the mint family, catnip is an herb that acts as an aphrodisiac for some cats. Most cats will roll it in and even run wild through the house. Scientists think it triggers “happy” hormones.
- Spend the day taking photos of your pets and then post them to a Facebook album.
- Take a day-trip to a favorite hiking trail, park or beach.
- Have a picnic with your pet in your back yard, with scrumptious goodies for the both of you.
- Carry your pet down the aisle of your local pet supply store and invite your pet to choose a new treat or toy.
- Play games. Play fetch with your dog. Hide treats around the house for your cat to find.
- Teach your pet a new trick. If your dog or cat has learned the basics of obedience, move on to tricks such as roll over, jump, or even to dance or walk on tiptoes. The harder the trick, the more practice it will take, but also the greater the quality time you can have with your pet.
- Instead of a quick pat on the head, give your pet a long massage with slow steady movements. The act of petting will release oxytocin (the “love hormone”) in both of you. If your pet suffers from arthritis, massage can help loosen her joints so she can move with less pain.
- Assist an ill, elderly, or a financially struggling neighbor or friend by purchasing pet food or other pet supplies.
Like several of the earlier holidays we’ve covered here at LAA Pet Talk, National Pet Day is also intended to “create public awareness about the plight of many different kinds of animals awaiting a forever home in shelters and rescues all around the globe”. The holiday isn’t just limited to dogs and cats, but also intended to include small animals, birds and reptiles, and farm animals. They all need our love!
April 18: Pet Owner’s Independence Day
From pets to owners, on April 18, roles are reversed! The idea is to switch roles with your pet, with your pet taking over all the household chores and even filling in for you at work, while you lie around the house and otherwise indulge yourself.
Granted, as I’ve written before, some pet holidays are silly. What pet is going to groom us, prepare us meals, or take us for strolls? And, as much as we’d love to stay home to take eight-hour naps, what pet is going drive to our work place, serve clients, or type notes on the computer in our place?
On a similar note, as Days of the Year points out, do owners really want to take on the role of their pets? Since when is gnawing bones or keeping scratching posts trim our idea of a good time? Do we wish to be subjected to obedience classes or catching mice for our keep?
It’s a wacky holiday. If you fantasize enough, you might even hit upon some fun ones such as Examiner’s idea of putting Polly the Parakeet in charge of social media for the day. Or you might simply decide that the bottom line is to celebrate yourself as a pet owner and treat yourself to a special day of whatever you choose.
April 26: National Kids and Pets Day
Skipping ahead the end of the month, April 26th is National Kids & Pets Day. Like National Pet Day, it too was created by Colleen Paige in 2005. The day is dedicated to educating the public about safety between children and pets.
For example, the National Kids & Pets Day website encourages parents to never leave small children alone with pets that have the potential to cause them harm. According to the site, thousands of children each year are either injured or killed by family pets. Sadly, these traumatic events often could have been avoided.
On a more positive note, the day is also “dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals.” By caring for pets, young people learn how to be responsible. In addition, Parents.Com says that having pets can help young people to learn and to be active. The comfort of pets can also help with the social development of young people. Finally, pets often encourage confidence in children with emotional needs and/or learning disabilities.
Children that grow up with pets tend to be extremely nurturing and compassionate, making dedicated and loving parents and pet owners themselves. This, in turn, simply makes for a happier world.
–Bill Strickland, Parent Magazine