National Dog Day was created for two reasons. The first is to honor dogs. This special day is our chance to recognize the importance of dogs in our lives. We should honor them for everything they do for us. Dogs give us unconditional love. They help us out in so many ways, each day, every day. They serve as watchdogs, looking out for our safety, barking to let us know when someone’s at our door or lurking outside our house. Specially trained dogs lead the blind, allowing them to live a normal life both inside and outside the home. Dogs help in search and rescue after earthquakes, floods, and disasters like 9/11. They sniff out bombs and drugs in airports as well as assisting police in their everyday patrols of our neighborhoods.
The second reason for having National Dog Day is to rescue dogs from homelessness and abuse. Sometimes dogs need “us” to save “them” and the National Dog Day Foundation has set a goal to rescue 10,000 dogs a year.
I grew up with little dogs. My family had several poodles and a Pekinese/Pomeranian mix. I don’t recall ever walking our dogs or feeding them or cleaning up after them. That was my parents’ job (typical). In fact, I don’t even recall where we got the dogs in the first place. They weren’t puppies when they arrived at our home and “back in the day” going to the animal shelter for a dog wasn’t as common as it is today. The animal I remember most in my childhood was actually a duck my parents allowed us to keep-until they got tired of cleaning up after Ducky and forced us to drive to Lake Merritt in Oakland and let the duck join his pals.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to get a dog that I was introduced to a large breed. We’d heard of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, developed in the Southern Africa region, originally Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1922. They’re noted for their ability to keep a lion at bay while awaiting its master’s arrival to make the kill. We named our Rhodesian Ridgeback Jackson Montgomery. (I have to reveal that, at the time, I was hooked on the daytime soap opera All My Children. My favorite character was … guess who? The very good looking Jackson Montgomery, played by Walt Willey.)
Fast forward ten years, after Jackson passed away, and we had two children. My husband always loved Chocolate Labrador Retrievers. I’d never heard of a chocolate lab. We brought home our baby Mocha and all fell in love with her innocent face and quiet, gentle manner. My favorite game was hide-and-seek. I would quietly vanish from the room and Mocha would not quit searching until she discovered me-usually hiding inside a closet or behind a door. Mocha was relentless and it was so much fun to watch her jump up when she found me, so excited to be reunited with me after only a few minutes! Mocha had one litter of puppies-ten chocolates, all with future homes before they were two months old. I’d never seen a dog giving birth. It was fascinating to help Mocha during the birthing process.
We kept one of the female puppies from Mocha’s litter and named her Java. Mother and daughter were inseparable which made it even harder for Java when Mocha passed away. After Mocha’s death I came home one day and I thought our home had been ransacked and burglarized. Java was so distraught about her mother’s passing, the vet put her on anti-depressants. They didn’t work and she was never the same. So we got another chocolate lab puppy to keep Java company-Annabella. Java found the darling little lab more irritating than anything else though they became friends when Annabella grew a bit older.
Annabella had a litter of five puppies. She and her son Jack are still with us. Annie is now thirteen and Jack is eleven. Which brings our family to the present day. We now have added our newest pup-pup, UJE (said ooo-giay). In Nigerian, UJE means happiness. And she’s brought us that, for sure. UJE is a sock-eater. When she was only four months old we had to rush her to the ER where they had to perform an endoscopy to look down her throat, where they found the third sock she’d swallowed, after she’d already expelled the first two at home.
On August 26th I have a lot to celebrate. I can’t imagine my life without dogs. No human has ever been so excited to see me when I return home! Walking them can be challenging since they’re big, weighing almost one hundred pounds when full grown. But I’ve found my love of chocolate labs something I’ve never experienced before with any other breed. I always believed there were “big dog” people and “little dog” people. Then we adopted our first rescue puppy three years ago – a Terrier/Chihuahua mix. Shay Dog is really a cuddly pup and I love her dearly. So, hey, go figure! But I still love those huge chocolate labs.