February 20th is the day to spoil, pamper, and thank your four-legged BFF
“He [rescue dog Einstein] loves me. I can do no wrong. He follows me everywhere.” –-George Clooney
Valentine's Day? That’s for amateurs. February’s true day of tenderness - for us dog types, at least - is National Love Your Pet Day.
Every year, on the 20th of the month, it’s the time to give love back to the one who loves you unconditionally. It’s time to indulge your pup with treats and long walks. It’s time to pamper your pet and coddle that canine. Well…more than you already do.
National Love Your Pet Day became a ‘thing’ in 2013, but in reality, we’ve loved our dogs since the beginning of time - literally. Since humans started roaming the earth for food and water, wolves and dogs were right by our side, first for scraps, then to protect us. It was win-win.
Get this. Not only did we evolve with dogs, we evolved together to better each other’s well-being. No wonder that symbiotic bond we have with a dog still leads to love of the deepest kind.
Calgary dog mom from Calgary shares her home with two Border Collies and a Dachshund. “Kit and Katie bring wisdom and comfort while Tig, my joyful pup, reminds me to keep looking forward while introducing her to all the life around her,” says Kramer.
“Together we make a loving little family and we will celebrate as we do everyday with a whole lot of fun and an extra treat..or two or three. I love my girls.”
The Psychology of a Dog Bond
As if evolving together isn’t reason enough we’re so close to our pups, but there are other deep-rooted reasons we deeply love our dogs.
Since the beginning, dogs have had the dual instinct of wanting to protect us, as well as going bonkers each time they see us. Psychologists say this constant combination of love and defense defines the ultimate friend. Not even our human buddies can keep up with that. And that unconditional devotion creates a profound sense of love inside us.
Because our pooches also depend on us while they adore us, our nurturing instincts kick in, we feel validation, and embrace responsibility. All this leads to a profound psychological comfort that feels like a warm blanket (or furry friend snuggled beside you in bed).
“We love our dogs because they love us unconditionally,” Hanah Wong, a Vancouver Black Lab and German Sheppard owner tells OhMyDog!. “During the toughest times in our lives, it just seems they know. They just come up with their big beady eyes and give us the best cuddles and face licks!”
The mention of those big beady eyes is significant. What might seem like innocent puppy looks are actually solid links to our trust and love. A dog’s eyes are incapable of giving off signs of judgment or hints that they’re jumping to conclusions about us. A dog’s mindfulness in the moment, without looking us up and down, is worlds away from the endless ways a human being’s eyes can speak volumes and cause doubt and anxiety inside us. The way dogs don’t look through us only deepens our love for them.
Other Reasons We Love Dogs
Okay, enough science speak. We know we’re crazy about our dogs without experts telling us. Let’s look at some of the real day-to-day reasons we love dogs and should celebrate them today.
Dogs Comfort and Cuddle
It doesn’t matter the day either of you had, there’s nothing like an unconditional cuddle. And who else in the world would be ecstatic to see you every single time you come home?
Dogs Protect Us
We’re not talking about aggression or fur fights. Even the smallest dogs have the inherent need to defend you, if only with a tiny growl when they sense something off.
“I remember when I fell during one of our night walks,” dog owner Hannah Wong tells us. “Marley just rushed over to check if I was okay. I called a family member to take him home while I waited for an ambulance because I couldn’t get up.”
“He ripped off his collar and refused to leave my side. At that moment, I knew I was his everything, and he was mine”
Dogs Keep Us in Shape
Whether you’re a sporto who takes your dog on grueling mountain hikes or a senior who circles the block, your daily outing with your dog gets you exercise, fresh air, and a change of scenery. And for such a free workout, you’ll never struggle to cancel a gym membership again.
Dogs Offer Endless Companionship
Let’s face it, even your best friend will let you down at some point. But your dog will always be there for you - and that’s good for the soul.
“When I moved across an ocean last year, my dog made it so much easier,” says Vancouverite IIima Loomis. “Together we explored the city, discovered our favourite parks, and met our new neighbours (dogs and humans).”
“When I missed my old life, she lay beside me and comforted me. She made my new house feel like home!”
Dogs Boost Our Mental Health
Just being near a loving pet can put us in a positive place. The hormones inside us that link to stress will calm down, and our dopamine and serotonin (the “happy” brain stuff) will rise. The mindfulness of being in the present moment can be achieved by simply petting your pup. Science has also proven that dogs help people with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
How To Celebrate National Love Your Pet Day
As if you don’t love up your dog the other 364 days of the year. But National Love Your Pet Day is the time to really pull out all the stops to thank him for his loyalty.
Here are 10 ideas to make today that much more special:
Take an adventure and walk where you’ve never walked before
Learn dog massage.
Buy or hand-make a new toy
Take her to lunch at one of the many dog-friendly eateries (found on PawSwap)
Create an obstacle course in the house with everyday items
Book a chic doggie spa
Bake some dog treats or whip up doggie “ice cream” with bananas
Develop all those cellphone photos and make a memory scrapbook
Hug, kiss, and squeeze the snot out of him
Donate to a local shelter and consider fostering or adopting
These furballs love us no matter what. Warts and all. So treat them to something special on this date where dogs get their day. And look into those non-judgemental eyes of theirs and say “hey…love ya, pal.”