Sunday, Aug. 26, is the eighth annual National Dog Day, when we reflect on the importance of canine friends in our lives and return some of the unconditional love they so generously bestow on us every day of the year.

This day of pupster pride was designated in 2004 thanks to the tireless efforts of Colleen Paige. Her goal, she explains, was “to honor dogs more than we currently do, to give them ‘a day,’ to show deep appreciation for our long connection to each other — for their endearing patience, unquestioning loyalty, for their work, their capacity for love and their ability to impact our lives every day in the most miraculous ways. National Dog Day wishes to encourage dog ownership of all breeds, mixed and pure — and embraces the opportunity for all dogs to live a happy, safe, and abuse-free life.”

Check out these suggestions for ways to celebrate canines this weekend.

1. Adopt a dog!

Check out the talent on offer at your local animal shelter. If you already have a dog, adopt a best friend for your best friend. Or, if now’s not the time to adopt, how about fostering, to help free up cage space? This helps more than you can imagine!

2. Help spread the word about dogs who need furever homes

While you’re at the shelter, ask what else you can do to help. If you’re handy with a camera, offer to take photos of adoptable dogs; if you’ve got a way with words, offer to write catchy, irresistible descriptions of the available dogs. Donate towels and blankets to cushion the cages, or coordinate an eBay sale to help raise funds. Everyone has a gift that can be put to great use on shelter dogs’ behalf!

3. Read a shaggy dog story

Sit down and read a dog tale, preferably with an adopted mutt or two by your side, like bookends! I thought I knew from dog books, but recently a handsome Virgo asked me if I’d ever read Shawno by George Dennison. I’d never heard of it — so I fully intend to dive in on Dog Day. (For more literary recommendations, consult the Dog Lovers Bookshop.)

4. Take inspiration from a dog or two

Wax lyrical by listening to a dog song, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Bron Yr Aur Stomp,” or reading a poem aloud to your dog. This is my fave:

“Teaching the Dog Not to Nip,” by Jim Moore
Do you think it’s easy,
not biting
the one you love?
Try loving someone so much
your mouth is only at home
in the place where your teeth
meet the flesh
of your beloved. Try
not tasting the flesh, not taking in your mouth
the beloved, not
going all the way.

From Lightning at Dinner (Graywolf Press)

5. Watch a dog movie with your favorite four-footed friends

Make some healthy, delicious popcorn in coconut oil and season it with healthy, delicious cinnamon, turmeric, and sea salt — it’s perfectly safe to share with Spot! Need a DVD recommendation? Check out My Dog Tulip (my fave flick), Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, or Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog.

6. Give your dog a special treat to eat.

(Or drink: Nonalcoholic beer for dogs, anyone?) My dogs happen to love gnawing on raw beef bones, so that’s how I intend to grease them on this special day. (Plus, there’s something in it for me too, as the bones keep my dogs’ teeth polished and strong.)

7. Wear your heart on your sleeve

Proclaim pup pride with an “Adopted” collar-and-leash set, some dog-themed jewelry, a designer T-shirt, or a fabulous scarf.

8. Visit a dog monument

Honor dogs who have saved people’s lives, such as the Balto statue in New York City’s Central Park, or the statue of Henry Huggins and Ribsy at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Portland, Oregon.

9. Meet Beefy the Skateboarding Bulldog

In New York City, Ripley’s Times Square Believe It or Not! is opening its doors for the first time to canines, and offering dogs and their owners free admission to its Odditorium. That day, Ripley’s newest sideshow performer, “Beefy” — the Bulldog skateboarding phenomenon who hails from the Upper West Side — will greet visitors as he rolls throughout the museum from noon to 5 p.m., showcasing his best tricks and unbelievable boarding skills. Water bowls and doggy biscuits will be stationed throughout the Odditorium for canine visitors.

How will you and your pup be celebrating this special day? Let us know in the comments!

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