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Happy National Dog Day

Dogs play a big role in the lives of veterans.
Dogs play a big role in the lives of veterans. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Today, Aug. 26, we celebrate man’s best friend. The 10th annual National Dog Day, or as it is also called, National Dog Appreciation Day, brings special attention to the four-legged friends who fill lives everyday.

This holiday, which started in 2004, is meant to highlight the vast number of dogs in need of a home, but the day also celebrates family pets and the dogs who serve in various fields everyday. The National Dog Day founder, Colleen Paige said, "I founded National Dog Day in 2004 to honor dogs, to give them “a day,” to show our deep appreciation for the historical connection of companionship with one another - for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work protecting our streets, homes and families as Police K-9s, Military Working Dogs, Guide Dogs and Therapy Dogs...I want the world to celebrate dogs for their capacity to love and their ability to impact our lives everyday in the most miraculous ways.”

There is no doubt that dogs play a big part of our lives. Whether they are companions or service dogs, they always seem to light up the lives of their owners. One area where dogs shine is their help with recovering veterans. Still Serving Veterans shared earlier this year that almost 20 percent of returning veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or both. The relationships between the veteran and their animal friend is key to their health. These companions provide owners with service such as comfort to someone in distress and company for those who are lonely.

Paige added that this day also encourages dog ownership. If you are looking for a new dog she asks that you stay away from puppy mills, backyard breeders, the internet and newspaper ads. If you are looking to grow your family- adopt a dog. Petfinder’s website is a great place to start. Here you can find dogs as well as other animals that are up for adoption in your area.

If you are already a pet parent, check out some activities you and your companion can do. National Dog Day organizers have come up with a list of 20 things to do with your pup. Enjoy!

1. Adopt a dog from your local shelter or pure breed rescue organization. Volunteer at your local shelter and offer to walk a dog or play with a dog, clean cages or anything else they need help with.

2. Have a safety check of your home to make sure it's safe for your dog and others.

3. Donate blankets, food and toys to animal welfare organizations.

4. Organize a peaceful demonstration in front of your community pet store that sells puppies.

5. Write your congressman and ask that he/she support the ban of puppy mills and gas chambers in your state.

6. Order an adorable dog-shaped flower arrangement from 1-800-Flowers.com and enjoy a 10% discount by using code DOG when placing your order!

7. Have a National Dog Day party and invite all your friends and their dogs!

8. Spend the day taking photos of your dog and then enter our photo contest!

9. Buy an official National Dog Day Tee here and sport it proudly!

10. Assist an ill or elderly neighbor by walking their dog.

11. Have a portrait painted of your dog to suspend the fleeting magic of dogdom.

12. Buy your dog a fun new dog toy....or two...or five.

13. Give your dog some fun exercise by taking him or her to a doggy play resort.

15. Brush your dog to eliminate excess fur.

16. Give your dog a massage or holistic spa treatment.

17. Teach your dog a new trick.

18. Buy your dog a fashionable collar and leash.

19. Hire a professional pet photographer for a fun photo shoot.

20. Take your dog to the beach.