January Pet Holidays: (Not Just) for the Birds
A new year takes flight, and January is a time to celebrate birds.
Birds are the fourth most common pet in the United States, but few people are aware that thousands of birds each year end up in shelters, often unwanted or mistreated — just like dogs and cats.
The 5th is National Bird Day, and the ASPCA has designated January as Adopt a Rescued Bird Month.
January is also Walk Your Dog Month and Train Your Dog Month, so all you dogs reading this, expect a real workout. It’s also a month to appreciate squirrels (or chase, I suppose, if you’re a dog), answer your cat’s questions, dress up your pets, and change a pet’s life. But we do that every day, don’t we?
Here’s what January 2018 has in store:
Adopt a Rescued Bird Month (sponsored by ASPCA)
Why adopt a shelter bird? Well, for many of the same reasons you’d adopt a dog or cat: to provide a caring home to an animal in need.
Birds are the fourth most commonly kept pet in this country — after dogs, cats, and fish. Still, nearly 7 million American households keep some 20.6 million birds as pets.
But birds are not for everyone, and thousands end up in shelters each year because people didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into. Compared to the thousands of dog and cat rescues in this country, however, there are only about 100 parrot rescues.
Moreover, some animal rights activists insist that unlike dogs and cats, birds are inherently wild and don’t belong as pets at all.
Most people are unaware of the plight of rescued birds, which is why VetStreet calls Adopt-a-Rescued Bird Month “a perfect time to learn more about being a good bird owner — and about how you can help abandoned birds find new homes.” Check out VetStreet and the other links below to find out more:
VetStreet: “Celebrate Adopt a Rescued Bird Month!”
Lafeber Veterinary: “5 Reasons To Adopt A Pet Bird”
Everything Birds Online: “January – Adopt A Rescue Bird Month”
Pet Education: “Adopt a Rescued Bird Month”
Pet Health Network: “January Is National Adopt a Rescued Bird Month!”
National Walk Your Dog (or Pet) Month
I’ve seen this month called Walk Your Dog Month and Walk Your Pet Month, and both with and without the “National,” which designates official recognition by Congress.
Walking your dog is important in oh-so-many ways, and the sites below can tell you oh so much about it. But did you know you can walk your cat too?
Animal Medical Hospital: “January is Walk Your Pet Month”
Ann Arbor Animal Hospital: “National Walk Your Dog Month”
CatAlyst Council: “Celebrate National Walk Your Pet Month — With Your Cat!”
Walk! Train! So much work! It’s a dog’s life. National Train Your Dog Month is an annual campaign of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, which provides free webinars and downloadable resources to the public through its website and Facebook page.
Four Muddy Paws: “January is National Train Your Dog Month”
Jan. 2 — National Pet Travel Safety Day
Humane Society: “Travel Safely with Your Pet by Car, Airplane, Ship, or Train”
Consumer Reports: “Safe road tripping with pets”
Cesar’s Way: “10 tips for epic road trips with your dog”
Pro Loans: “Pets and Car Travel Safety”
Dallas Morning News: “U.S. requiring airlines to keep more data on incidents involving animals”
Born Free USA and the Avian Welfare Coalition believe that, unlike domestic dogs and cats — who diverged from their wild ancestors tens of thousands of years ago — birds are inherently wild and cannot be domesticated. Hence they’re not necessarily fans of Adopt a Rescued Bird Month.
They ask people “to look at captive bird species from a different point of view: their point of view. Think twice before watching and sharing an online video of a captive bird; while they may be cute to you, these videos often showcase birds who are confused, frustrated, lonely, or distressed. These are birds living unfulfilled lives, even in homes where they are loved and pampered.”
Read more about National Bird Day.
Jan. 14 — Dress Up Your Pet Day
Some people cringe at the idea of dressing up animals in human-esque clothes or costumes, but some people love it, and this day is for them. It doesn’t need much explanation.
There are a few important things to keep in mind no matter how you dress your pet:
- Remember that your dog or cat is a living being, not a toy doll. They have feelings. Please respect that.
- If your pet looks uncomfortable or starts whimpering or wriggling away, it’s time to stop and take the outfit off. On the other hand, some animals love it.
- Make sure the outfit is not too tight, and that nothing hangs down that might trip or entangle your pet’s legs.
- It’s January, which means it might be cold outside. Dressing your dog for his or her daily walk (remember, it’s Walk Your Dog Month too) may simply be a good idea.
Jan. 18 — Winnie the Pooh Day (UK)
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” — Winnie the Pooh
The English author A.A. Milne wrote many books, plays, stories, and even some poetry, but he’s best known as the creator of the lovable bear Winnie the Pooh. Milne was born on January 18, 1882, and somehow his birthday became Winnie the Pooh Day.
Jan. 20 — Penguin Awareness Day
April 25 is World Penguin Day, but no one is sure who started Penguin Awareness Day, or even the correct date. Well … so what. Any day is a good day to celebrate these adorable, flightless birds. Dress in black and white today; or better, watch the amazing documentary “March of the Penguins” on DVD, IMDb, or wherever you can.
Jan. 21 — Squirrel Appreciation Day
They can jump 10 times the length of their bodies. They use their tails as blankets in winter, and as parachutes when they fall. They’re not domesticated like dogs and cats. But it was humans who introduced them to major city parks in the 1850s and ‘60s so that feeding squirrels would encourage kindness to all animals. Nice idea.
Not everyone likes squirrels, but others (like me) find them highly entertaining. For most of the year they can be real pests in flower and vegetable gardens. And they love tipping over bird feeders. But this holiday takes place in mid-winter when food sources are scarce. Like them or not, squirrels are fascinating and notoriously difficult to outwit.
National Wildlife Federation: “7 Ways to Celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day”
New York Times: “Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive”
Mother Nature Network: 22 Things You May Not Know About Squirrels
Jan. 22 — National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day
What cat owner hasn’t ever wondered what the heck is going on in their feline’s furry little head? Today we get to ask. Sort of.
Jan. 24 — Change a Pet’s Life Day
Change a Pet’s Life Day (#ChangeAPetsLife on Twitter) was created in 2009 to draw attention to the many homeless pets and to encourage adoption. But really, any day is a good day to change a pet’s life for the better.
Jan. 29 — See Eye Guide Dog Birthday
The first school for seeing eye dogs opened its doors on January 29, 1929, in Nashville, Tennessee.