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National Rescue Dog Day

National Rescue Dog Day is celebrated annually on May 20th to spread awareness of the numerous dogs waiting in shelters for their forever home. According to, "The day was founded in 2018 by Lisa Wiehebrink, children’s book author and Executive Director of Tails That Teach, an organization that helps children learn the kind and proper treatment of their pets. Lisa’s inspiration for National Rescue Dog Day came from her beloved rescue dog Cooper who was rescued as a puppy from a Los Angeles shelter in 2009 after being found living in a vacant lot."

Ways to Get Involved:

Donate supplies to a local animal shelter. While there are some supplies that many shelters are always in need of, like new or gently used towels and blankets, some shelters will have a page on their website with specific supplies they are in need of.

If you are able and interested, consider volunteering at a local animal shelter. Keep in mind that most shelters have new volunteers attend an orientation before they are able to volunteer. This orientation can include anything from shelter policies like how to properly enter a dog's kennel to how to interpret different kinds of body language in dogs.

While this day celebrates rescue dogs, there are many other kinds of animals that need homes. Cats, horses, pigs, guinea pigs, and rabbits are just a few animals that can be found in certain shelters. If these or other animals are more your thing, know that there are volunteers, donations, and adopters needed for other animals, too.

Even just a few minutes spent with a puppy or dog in their kennel can have a positive impact on them and their chances of getting adopted. What I mean by this is that potential adopters will often not be interested in dogs who jump up (especially larger dogs because they have the potential to knock people over) or nip, for example. One strategy to help teach dogs that these and other behaviors are wrong is redirecting them. This could look like having a dog sit and giving them treats if they are excitable, since this puts the dog's focus on food rather than the undesired behavior.

I have been taught a few things at the shelter I volunteer at for dogs who jump up. The first thing, for when someone is standing outside of a kennel and a dog is jumping up on the bars, is to turn your back and not talk to the dog. Dogs can take any talking, even admonishment, as something positive, so doing this ensures that you are not reinforcing this behavior. Of course, once a dog has learned a command like "leave it" or "off", those can be used in this and other cases. I find that standing at an angle where I can still see a dog without directly looking at them is helpful for this. Once I see that a dog has calmed down and has all of their paws on the floor, I turn around and reward them with a treat. If they jump up before I am able to do so, I repeat the process. This ensures that dogs begin to recognize the desired behavior you are asking them for.

A second thing that can help teach dogs not to jump up is somewhat similar to the first. When you are in a kennel with a dog who is jumping up on you, what I have been taught to do is to turn your back to them and avoid speaking to them. Once they have stopped jumping up, turn around. If they do not start jumping up again, then slowly try to sit down. If they start jumping at any point, repeat this process.

In closing, National Rescue Dog Day is a day to recognize and honor the pets in shelter who may be in need of a home, supplies, or the attention that volunteers can have the privilege of giving them. If you have a rescue dog or animal of your own, take time to remind them how special and loved they are.

Visit to learn more about the dogs pictured and to see the other dogs and cats they have available for adoption, as well as the programs that they have.

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