More than one-third of U.S. households have a dog, and on average, there are 1.6 dogs in each of those dog-owning homes, according to the U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook.
This Sunday, Aug. 26, about 36.5 percent of our readers will have their own 1.6 reasons to celebrate National Dog Day.
I have two. Brutus and Brody are a father and son pair of English springer spaniels who moved with us to the North Coast last December. When we looked for a place to live, “fenced back yard” was on the must-have list.
They are good companions. And a pain.
They will always need to be cared for and fed. We will always have to clean up their poop, and go with them for walks. At least our kids grew out of those things. Dogs never do.
National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige to encourage dog adoptions and call attention to dogs that need to be rescued every year. Not everyone looking at an adorable puppy thinks ahead to the 15-plus years they need to commit to caring for that pup. Those dogs often end up needing new families.
Paige picked Aug. 26 because her family adopted her first dog on that date.
May 25, 1996, was our family’s first adopted dog day.
We were moving from a rental to a house we bought in the woods, when my father-in-law, Bob, showed up with a massive black Lab.
“Well, I thought if those girls were going to live in the country, they needed a dog,” Bob said.
“Geez, Papa” I replied. “Couldn’t you wait until we had moved in first?”
Turns out, he couldn’t.
He’d gone to the animal shelter to look for the perfect companion for our 3- and 4-year-old daughters. Bob found a great big 3-year-old black Lab who had been given up by a young man headed for the military. Bob asked the shelter if he could bring the girls by later to meet the dog, but it was Memorial Day weekend, the shelter was closing and the dog was to be euthanized on Monday.
So he brought Chainsaw (the dog’s given name) to us the day we were moving.
Chainsaw turned out to be the perfect family dog. Big, gentle, affectionate, protective. He was mainly the girls’ dog. When they went to the pond, Chainsaw went to the pond. If they sledded down the driveway or biked down the road, he ran beside them.
When the girls were older and caught the school bus, he went with them; and at 3:45 every afternoon, he went to meet the bus and escort them home. He only barked when someone or something was warned to stay away. Chainsaw became legendary in the neighborhood for his massive size and his huge heart.
If you’ve done the math, Chainsaw would be 25 now, so I’ll spare you the sadness in this story. But know that he’s resting at the forest house he loved. (And that I can never watch “Marley and Me” again.)
Chainsaw spoiled us. We became dog people.
If you’re dog people, you know the rest. Dog hair and muddy footprints are part of life, and now that we live near the beach, so is sand … everywhere. But so is the happy tail wag and wiggle when you come home from work, or the comfort of that head on your lap as you read, or the fun of throwing sticks on the beach and watching them dance with joy, running circles in the sand.
Take a look through this slideshow at the happy faces of the dogs who have people who loved them enough to send their pictures into our Going to the Dogs contest in honor of National Dog Day.
And if you think you just might be ready to be dog people, too, muddy paws and all, take a drive to one of our local animal shelters and start your own National Dog Day adoption story.
I hope we’ll see your dog photos entered in the contest next year.
Kari Borgen is The Daily Astorian’s publisher.