Back in 2004 a woman by the name of Colleen Paige established what is now known as National Dog Day on the 26th of August. She did this in recognition of the day that her family adopted its first dog on her tenth birthday. Today, national Dog Day is celebrated by dog owners throughout our nation, including the state of New York which added it to their legislation in 2013.

Canine companions play significant roles in family life. Known for their unconditional love, dogs serve to add immeasurably to personal well-being. They can comfort and amuse in ways that never cease to amaze their humans. They are protectors of life and property. They serve to assist rescue workers, act as guides to the blind, sniff out warfare weapons on the battlefield, identify the location of drugs to assist law enforcement personnel, and in some cases even have the ability to detect medical conditions. They are devoted and forgiving, eager to play and please, and always willing to listen even if they do not always obey. Your secrets are safe with them! They ask for nothing, yet rely on human kindness to provide for their needs: attention, nurturing, housing, food, veterinary care and the security of a permanent loving home.

Breeds vary in temperament, size, and maintenance requirements. When a family adopts a dog there are numerous things to consider. Are the costs of food and medical care affordable? Does the housing permit canine ownership? (Some apartments do not allow pets while others have breed restrictions regarding size or perceived aggressiveness. Indeed, some towns have ordinances prohibiting certain types of dogs.) Is there a commitment to provide lifelong companionship by the family? Too often an adorable puppy grows into a full-sized dog, perhaps with long hair that sheds everywhere or it slobbers and drools as it ages. Has the effort required for house-training been thoroughly considered? Are physical needs of the large breed that requires daily exercise understood? These are common sense issues that must be part of the decision to take on the responsibility of dog ownership.

For a true dog lover the concerns listed above are commonplace and easily managed. For the dog they are essential. For those of us who have owned and loved dogs throughout the years, every day is National Dog Day. CARE for and love your dog today!

Pat Jauch is secretary of Caledonia Animal Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 4054, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819.

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