March Madness

The NCAA’s “March Madness” Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament has nothing on the number of animal awareness days that also occur this month! And you might be surprised by the variety…   In fact, by my quick count, there are more than TWENTY such days in March this year, some of which I don’t really want to get into. (For example, did you know Save a Spider Day happens on March 14 this year? Feel free to seek out information on that one yourself.)   The first one I’d like to highlight here is K-9 Veteran’s Day, which is celebrated on March 13. Being a military veteran myself—and also being married to one—you can imagine how this day might resonate with me.   Plus, there’s an interesting history behind it. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, I recommend checking out the National Day website’s article:,the%20military%20and%20law%20enforcement.   For those more interested in the short version, K-9 Veteran’s Day was started by animal handler and Vietnam War veteran Joe White from Jacksonville, Florida. He was appalled that loyal, working dogs were euthanized at the end of their service. Thankfully, this doesn’t occur anymore, but the day is still intended to get those of us who walk around on two legs to think about what our four-legged members of the military and/or law enforcement agencies actually do to protect us.   You can find specially-trained dogs serving in the Coast Guard or aiding in border patrol. You might encounter them at customs in the airport. The Secret Service, the FBI, and local/state police agencies utilize their talents.   These amazing canines can save law enforcement and military agencies hundreds of man hours a year. They can track human scents, aiding immeasurably in search and/or rescue missions. They sniff out narcotics. They can detect explosives. They can pinpoint accelerants in cases of arson. More recently, they have been trained to detect hidden electronic devices.   How can you help to celebrate K-9 Veteran’s Day? The National Day website has three suggestions, which I think are good.  

1.     Donate to an animal shelter. Even items such as newspapers, toys, dog food, or feeding bowls can help.

2.     Adopt a K-9 veteran. These intelligent animals truly appreciate a loving home.

3.     Read about the K-9 Corps. Knowledge is power, but it’s also truly interesting the way in which canines in the military have been put to good use over the years.

For example, during World War I, they were used as messengers and sniffed out wounded soldiers. During World War II, they guarded camps and helped rescue pilots who’d crashed their planes.   There is a lot more and it’s fascinating. But let’s move on to Dog Theft Awareness Day, which happens right along with Save a Spider Day—March 14.  (And no, I’m still not getting into Save a Spider Day.)   On a more serious note, it always makes me sad to think that nearly two million dogs are stolen every year in the U.S. alone, with only a ten-percent recovery rate. And, according to the National Day website, most are swiped by organized crime operations with the intent to sell to puppy mills or to illegal dog fighting groups. So, the more valuable your dog is, the more you may have to worry.   However, it’s possible to take some proactive actions before you face such a heartbreaking loss of a beloved pet. The National Day website recommends:  

1.     Get your dog microchipped. It’ll be a lot easier to locate Bruno if he gets lost or stolen. And it’s easier to prove he lives with you if-and-when the time comes.

2.     Spay or neuter your dog. Spayed or neutered pets tend not to wander so much in search of a mate. Less wandering means less opportunity for thieves.

3.     Don’t let your dog go around unsupervised. Keep your eyes open, even in the compound. And always have Sparky’s collar and ID tags on her.  

Which leads me to Cuddly Kitten Day and Puppy Day, both observed on March 23. Does it get any cuter than that?   Of course, not all cats are cuddly, so before trying to squeeze Squeak with affectionate hugs, be mindful of what you know his likes and dislikes tend to be in this regard. If he’s not particularly into expressing his love that way, maybe take a trip down to the local shelter, volunteer for the day, and cuddle some kittens needing attention there.   And Puppy Day? Well, creator Colleen Paige—who started the practice in 2006—describes it as, “a special day to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives. But more importantly, it’s a day to help to save orphaned puppies across the globe and educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills” (   As such, Paige recommends celebrating Puppy Day as follows:  

1.     Of course, adopt a puppy from a shelter, and/or volunteer at the shelter to help. Donating what you can is also appreciated.

2.     Do what you can to raise awareness about the awful conditions in puppy mills.

3.     Contact elected representatives and urge them to help with eliminating puppy mills to the extent possible. 4.     Walk an elderly neighbor’s pet for them.

5.     Treat your puppy to a toy, a good brushing, and some fun play time.

6.     Join a dog-friendly community online, and share pictures and stories about your puppy.

7.     Have a puppy party—invite friends and their four-legged companions.

8.     Get your puppy some leash-training.   Of course, there are more things you can do…but you get the idea.  

Whew! That’s a lot of information…so, I’ll just mention in passing some of the others for the month. Here goes:  

March 1: Horse Protection Day

March 3: World Wildlife Day

March 11: Key Deer Awareness Day

March 15: Day of Action for Seals

March 16: Save the Florida Panther Day

March 17: Buzzard Day (Yeah…that’s a thing…)

March 20: World Frog Day

March 27: Manatee Appreciation Day  

And no, I’m still not getting into Save a Spider Day. Animal Hospital of Sullivan County Dr Barbara J Bodolosky 667 Harris Rd Ferndale NY 12734 845-292-6711

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