By Susan Spisak
May is a chock full of celebrations for dog lovers that will delight purebred and mutt fans, rescuers, and fur moms. There are specially designated days to observe, a treasured canine competition to watch, and a fun local event to hit. Let’s take a look!
Right out of the gate on May 1 is National Purebred Day with the motto, “Celebrating the Heritage, Diversity and Predictability of the Purebred Dog.” This day was founded almost ten years ago by writer Susi Szeremy. She believes that purpose-bred dogs should be recognized and preserved through education and awareness.
Today there are more than 400 purebreds, and they’re defined as those who can trace their pedigree/genealogy back three generations. While many purebred dogs no longer serve their original purpose – think of the Dalmatians who once led fire trucks – responsible breeders are committed to maintaining them as close to their original standards as possible. For information on beloved breeds and to share yours, facebook.com/NationalPurebredDogDay.
Going hand in hand with National Purebred Day is the 147th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Westminster Week features over 3,000 top-ranked dogs in various competitions, with 15 Maine dogs participating. The major dog groups participating are Sporting (with Bracchi Italiani as the newest recognized breed), Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. An exciting tidbit is that the show is returning to NYC after a two-year stint in upstate New York due to COVID-19.
The competition begins May 6th with Westminster’s Canine Celebration Day including the Masters Agility Championship, the Masters Obedience Championship, Dock Diving, and Freestyle Obedience demonstrations. On May 8th and 9th, there’s daytime breed competitions and Junior Showmanship preliminaries. Evenings will feature Group judging, Junior Showmanship Finals, and concludes with Best in Show on May 9th. Check local listings for the 16+ hours of coverage on FOX Sports. Tune in and keep an eye out for the Maine competitors to cheer them on.
The first Sunday in May – this year it’s the 7th – is Mayday for Mutts, a holiday to spread love for and acceptance of mixed-breeds aka mutts. The purpose is to encourage animal shelter adoptions, giving these pets not only a terrific home but a great life. There are plenty of local shelter pets to visit and get to know if you’ve been thinking of adopting. Some may offer a trial period such as foster-to-adopt programs. This allows you to see if the mutt not only fits into your home but meshes with resident animals.
Mutts are widely accepted as being a few or more breeds, and their popularity has grown. In 1974, the canine movie about a stray mutt, Benji, hit screens, and the 4-legged star took America’s hearts. By 1978, the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America, aka MBDCA was founded, and they offered events for those excluded from purebred comps. (MBDCA is dissolving, but the St Louis chapter will remain.)
May 8th is National Catahoula Leopard Dog Day. Catahoula is part of the breed’s name in honor of their origin, the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. The Catahoula Leopard Dog, an intense and high energy breed, is also referred to as Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog, Catahoula Hound, and Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.
Available for Adoption Bree 1-2 years old,
FMI Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Catahoula Rescue of New England: Houlas & Heelers Inc. is an all-volunteer group based in Warren. Founder and Director, Shannon L. Nachajko, is dedicated to rescuing and rehoming this independent thinking breed. Their mission is to advocate for homeless Catahoula Leopard Dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs, and mixes thereof. They pull their dogs mainly from high-kill southern shelters.
When asked about her preferred breed despite their unique personality, she answered quickly, “You have to be able to look beyond what you see on the surface with a Catahoula. They are beautiful dogs, but that is not a reason to get one. If that is why you are attracted to one, look elsewhere because these dogs make you a better owner, trainer, and dog lover every day. Between testing our knowledge and leadership and what they already know, they are more than amazing and keep you on your toes.”
Next on the calendar is National German Shepherd Day on May10th. GSDs as they’re often called, are known for their courage, loyalty, and guarding abilities. These reasons are why they excel as police, military, and search and rescue partners. They’re also well-suited as guide dogs for the blind.
Tuesdi Woodworth, President of Miracle German Shepherd Rescue (based in the Mid-coast area), said her love for GSDs began 35 years ago when she adopted her first one. “They are so intelligent and quick to learn. Because of their intelligence they are also extremely sensitive and intuitive and can have a wonderful sense of humor – making them a real joy to have around. The very traits that make them so desirable for a lot of people, though, also make them not suited for everyone, and I urge people to think long and hard about whether a GSD is the right breed for them.”
Available for Adoption Stella - 7 Years old
GSDs must have a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They require plenty of socialization, so they don’t become overprotective. Woodworth said they are consistently found in shelters because people may be unprepared and unwilling to meet their needs. That said she added, “For the right people though, who make the effort to give them the tools they need, they make an absolutely wonderful family companion.”
National Dog Mom’s Day is on the second Saturday in May – this year it falls on the 13th. It was created by the founder of the lifestyle brand, Dig Dates (a dating app to connect dog lovers!), and author of The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy, Colleen Paige. The day is designed to honor the bond between moms and their beloved pooches.
The best way to reinforce that bond is to spend quality time together. Get out and walk together, sit on a patio and have lunch (order a children’s burger for your sidekick), stop at a pet store and pick out a new toy. If your day is busy, at least take a quick drive to a custard stand together for a doggie cone. Your pal will thank you.
If you want to take a road trip or you’re near Augusta, leash up your fur kid and get to Kennebec Valley Humane Society’s 30th Annual Mutt Strut at Youth Memorial Park & Buker Community Fields, 22 Armory Street, at 10 am. Check pethavenlane.org.
KVHS Mutt Strut
Finally, May 20th is National Rescue Dog Day. 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. She believes in celebrating the rescue dog in your life and advocates adopting, fostering, and volunteering for shelters or purebred rescues (and mixes thereof) to save lives.