This Saturday, 26 August, marks a special day for lovers of our tail-wagging, four-legged friends – it’s International Dog Day! Dog owners will know that the unique relationships between owner and pet enrich different parts of our lives. Daily walks get us out the house and enjoying fresh air, games of fetch or throwing balls provide endless entertainment and a study by the University of British Columbia Okanagan has proven that cuddling a dog is good for our wellbeing.
International Dog Day started in 2004, and came about thanks to Colleen Paige, a pet and family lifestyle expert and rescue dog advocate from the United States. Paige, who has been nicknamed the “Animal Oracle”, started working with dogs at the National Institute of Dog Training in Los Angeles under renowned trainer and American TV personality of Woof! It’s a Dog’s Life, Matthew Margolis. Since then, she’s worked with dogs from around the world including Belgium and the Philippines. International Dog Day commemorates the day Paige adopted her first family dog, Sheltie.
Whether your furry companion is a rescue or pedigree pooch, he or she certainly deserves to be treated. Below are some ideas on how to show man’s best friend some love.
From farm to bowl – microgreens for Fido
You may have already added microgreens into your diet, but did you know they’re beneficial for your pups? Microgreens are produced from herbs, vegetables and other plants, and these tiny greens contain up to 40x more nutrients than mature vegetables. You can celebrate your dog every day by boosting the nutritional value of their meals with microgreens, which are easy to mix in with their dog food.
“The reason microgreens pack a nutritional punch is because when they are young plants they are producing the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they need to mature. I’ve seen firsthand how a healthy diet, with greens incorporated regularly, can support a dog’s health and leave them with a silky soft coat. Your dogs can benefit from the extra dose of fiber, calcium and vitamin K in Broccoli greens, while greens in the Brassica family have vitamins E and K, as well as iron, potassium and magnesium,“ explains Rick Hein, Managing Director of MicroThumbs, who supply microgreens to retailers countrywide.
Go on a doggy staycation
A change of scenery is as good as a vacation, so if you can’t leave on a holiday take your canine companion on your next staycation. Over the years it’s become more popular for places to be welcoming of dogs, but not every establishment allows them.
Finding a home for the whole family
We undoubtedly love our dogs, with market researcher Euromonitor International reporting that South Africa has around 9.1 million pet dogs. A growing trend of pet parents who view their pets as children means many people buying a new home are looking for a property that will not merely accommodate their beloved furry friends but enhance their quality of life. According to Carl Coetzee, CEO of BetterBond, key factors for a potential property include whether it has a spacious garden with high, secure walls to stop dogs from jumping over, and if there is a doggie door in the house to allow pets access to the garden for fresh air and sunshine.
“Consider the neighbourhood, too,” advises Coetzee. “Are there parks or green spaces nearby to take your dog for extra exercise and sensory stimulation and is there a reliable vet in close proximity? If your dog is a senior and you’re buying a double-storey or multi-level home, you might need to get foam pet-steps to help them move from one level to another, or non-slip runners on stairs for better traction underfoot.”
Learn more about African wild dogs
If you love domestic dogs, then perhaps you’ll love getting a chance to witness the endangered African wild dog in the wild! There are only four existing populations of these majestic dogs on the continent, and we’re lucky that one is in the Kruger National Park. A visit to the Kruger is at the top of many a bucket list, and it’s there that you might witness wild dogs roaming the area.
Dogs in all their breeds, shapes and sizes have captured humans’ hearts – as writer Gen Hill famously quipped: “No man can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog.”