While there is a lot going wrong in our pandemic world right now, we thought we would give everyone a reason to smile with all the reasons to celebrate this April. From National Hug Your Dog Day, which was celebrated earlier this month on April 10, to Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, which closes out the month on April 30, there are many reasons to celebrate animals and the Earth in April and, hopefully, give us a bit of respite in these challenging times.
Wednesday, April 22 was the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Probably the most famous of the April celebration days, it is the day that we take time out to honor the Earth and remind ourselves that we need to care for her every single day of the year. While this year’s Earth Day festivities were limited by the pandemic, there are numerous ways that you can continue to honor the Earth throughout the year. Many organizations, such as the American Museum of Natural History, are offering online programming including Earth Fest from Home, an all day festival with gardening workshops and a live watch party for a flight around the world. Similarly, the Connecticut Audubon Society was offering Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz, a program which encourages participants to head out to their yards with the iNaturalist app and identify as many living things as possible. For a less structured and tech-centered celebration, you can continue to commemorate the Earth with some gardening or even just a walk around your neighborhood. Leave the earbuds at home and listen for the sounds of nature instead.
World Veterinary Day
For the past twenty years, the last Saturday in April has been celebrated as World Veterinary Day to call attention to the important work of veterinarians not only in caring for animals, but also in working to improve the environment, human welfare, and food safety. Celebrated on April 25, the theme of World Veterinary Day this year is, appropriately, “Environmental Protection for Improving Animal and Human Health.” While World Veterinary Day is a day for veterinary professionals to observe their own hard work in protecting animals and the environment, it is also a great time for us to honor them for the work that they do. So, send them a homemade thank you card or a small gift to your veterinarian, donate to a shelter or other animal charity in their name, and sing their praises to your social media network. These are all things that will help them to feel appreciated for caring for our animals, our planet, and us.
National Therapy Animal Day
On April 30, we have the opportunity to acknowledge all the animals who work to help people feel safe and make their worlds more manageable by serving as therapy animals. These amazing animals work with children and adults in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and anywhere else that they are needed to provide comfort. Among other similar types of work, therapy animals typically work with their handlers, people who are trained to work with the animals to provide services, to help people feel calm in stressful situations. For example, a child in a hospital about to undergo a procedure may be visited by a therapy animal to help the child feel more comfortable and relaxed. Thanks to Pet Partners, a therapy animal organization which started National Therapy Animal Day, we can commemorate these awesome animals and raise awareness of their service. Some ways to remember the day include sharing information about therapy animals to social media, contacting local government to get National Therapy Animal Day officially noted on the calendar where you live, participate in Pet Partners Sweets and Treats initiative, or consider volunteering your time as a therapy animal handler. You can register and begin training online and, once certified, you can offer virtual therapy animal visits.
Adopt a Shelter Pet Day
Also being celebrated on April 30 is Adopt a Shelter Pet Day (though, of course, we would prefer it if it were called Adopt a Shelter Animal Day). With social distancing restrictions in place, it may be more challenging to commemorate this day this year, but it can certainly be done creatively! If you are able to adopt an animal, you can try meeting him or her virtually. Visit you local shelters’ websites to identify the animal that may be a good fit for your family. Call the shelters to discuss your lifestyle and the animal’s personality. If it seems like a good fit on both sides, you may be able to work out a way to safely get the animal to your home, such as making an individual appointment to pick up the animal while following good social distancing strategies and wearing a mask. If you cannot adopt an animal at this time, consider sending a donation (monetary or goods) to your local shelters. Many of them post wish lists of needed items on their websites so you can place an order of materials or food to be delivered directly to them.
April is full of days and ways to celebrate animals and the Earth. While National Hug your Dog Day (April 10) and National Pet Day (April 11) may have passed, you can – and should, of course – hug your dog and honor your animal every day of the year. For the rest of the month, consider commemorating all the days listed above with some of our suggestions for ways to celebrate. It will be much needed break for you and your animal to take some time to feel joy and gratitude for all the ways animals and nature make our lives better.