There are the holidays we all more or less accept as real – Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July. Then there are the holidays most people accept as real, though there is always a vocal minority that complain they are “made-up” or “Hallmark holidays” – Valentine’s Day, Mother/Father’s Day and Halloween tend to be the big three in this category.
And then there are the holidays that we all know are made-up, but still have a great time celebrating on social media. National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (Aug. 4), National Chocolate Day (Oct. 28), National Avocado Day (July 31), National Ice Cream Day (July 21) and so on. It might not be quite accurate to say there is some kind of “holiday” every day of the year – but if we aren’t there quite yet, we as a civilization are well on our way.
Why do these holidays exist? The reason depends on the holiday. Some have a very specific root cause. National Ice Cream Day, for example, came into existence in 1984 because there was a national dairy surplus, and President Ronald Reagan was hoping to convince Americans to consume more dairy products while the federal government contended with a 500-million-pound surplus of cheese. (If you’re wondering why they didn’t declare National Cheese Day, it was the middle of summer, and ice cream was a better fit for the season than cheese.)
As ridiculous-sounding solutions are wont to do, this actually worked. Ice cream sales spiked – and they have continued to do so every year since on July 31, boosted by the onslaught of ice-cream shops offering free cone promotions.
Which basically explains the existence of the vast majority of the other National “...” Days – they are an excellent source of free marketing, particularly in the era of social media. National Avocado Day was declared in 2017 by Model Meals, a California-based healthy meal delivery service, as a promotion to move health food. As of 2019, both Bed Bath and Beyond and Chipotle were celebrating the holiday.
And then there are the made-up holidays that exist because any sense of justice and decency simply demands they must – the holidays that are so obviously in need of celebrating that one wonders why they aren’t bigger than Christmas.
Holidays like National Dog Day.
Yes, every dog has its day, as the saying goes, and, as it turns out, that day is today.
Dog owners, of course, celebrate their pets every day, which five minutes on any social media site will quickly confirm. And as consumers, we certainly show our enthusiasm with our spend – the average dog owner shells out close to $1,300 a year on their furry best friends. Millennials are the most enthusiastically spending pet owners, and arguably the most dedicated. Nearly two-thirds expressed willingness to take time off from work to care for a sick pet if their employer allowed it.
In the last several years, there has also been an explosion of pet care subscription boxes, digital on-demand veterinary services, luxury dog spas and hotels, app-based doggie day care – not to mention the literally thousands of dog toy options available on Amazon. It adds up to an industry worth multiple billions a year – and raises an interesting puzzle on this most sacred of holidays.
How to celebrate and splurge on man’s best friend when the market is already focused on celebrating and spending on them every day?
Fear not – the options abound on National Dog Appreciation Day.
BarkBox’s Bespoke Love Songs
It probably shouldn’t be surprising that BarkBox went all-out in its 2019 celebration of National Dog Day. The biggest and best-known name in the digital pet commerce business, BarkBox describes itself as a “lifestyle brand for dog lovers,” with its core offering being a monthly subscription box full of toys and treats. The firm was founded by self-described obsessive dog owner Matt Meeker, who told Karen Webster in an interview that before BarkBox was a business, it was really just his attempt to make his beloved Great Dane, Hugo, happy.
“I thought I was the only person who felt this way about their dog. I sort of expected to be sending 10 boxes a month to the 10 craziest, most fanatical dog parents out there,” he noted. “That would have been just fine, by the way, as long as my dog was getting good stuff.”
Several years, many expansions and a few million subscribers later, Meeker has learned he is not the only person who feels that way about his dog. But given the BarkBox community’s overall enthusiasm for celebrating pets every day, it stands to reason the firm would go big in celebrating the holiday.
And so they did the only natural thing, according to AdWeek: They enlisted the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus for #PraiseDog, a new campaign that helps dog lovers express gratitude toward their dogs. How? With a song.
To participate, dog lovers can tweet @BarkBox a picture and description of their dog and why he or she deserves a song. The choir takes that information and personalizes a song for the dog. From there, BarkBox will respond with a customized tune.
BarkBox has not promised to necessarily compose a song about every dog – there are a finite number of bespoke songs a single choir can write in a day. And the promotion has caused some controversy, as BarkBox ran an intensely targeted series of ads on YouTube and Hulu for the service. So intense, in fact, that some people complained on Twitter that they had switched to paid, ad-free versions of the service simply to escape BarkBox.
BarkBox, for its part, responded in a very good-natured, dog-like way: “we didn't mean to accidentally push people into paying for hulu... but here we are. Good thing #nationaldogday is tomorrow!”
On-demand dog walking and boarding app Wag is also celebrating the holiday – albeit focused a bit more on pet safety than fun – with the launch of the Wag! Tag, a smart dog tag designed to make it easier to find and return lost pets.
The Wag! Tag can be programmed with multiple phone numbers, health information and behavioral tips, along with any other important information that a pet parent would want someone who finds their four-legged family member to know. The tag uses QR technology to store each dog's personalized profile. When a dog is located, the finder can scan the Wag! Tag using a smartphone camera, immediately gaining access to the information needed to find the owner.
"More than 3.5 million dogs are lost in the U.S. each year, and anyone who's experienced this knows how overwhelming it can feel," said Dr. Lisa Lippman, DVM, an experienced dog safety expert and veterinarian. "Now, the person who finds a missing furry family member wearing a Wag! Tag has access to the details needed to quickly get the dog home."
Sadly, you cannot give your dog a Wag Tag! to celebrate National Dog Day, as they were only announced for the holiday. But they will be hitting shelves in the next few weeks, and it is never too early to shop for Christmas. If, however, you are hoping to get a high-tech pet present more quickly, there is always the Whistle Go Explore – a sort of Fitbit for dogs that attaches to their collars and monitors for things like excessive scratching and licking, food consumption, sleep patterns and calories burned per week. The collars also come pre-built with GPS tracking, so a lost dog can be tracked as long as he or she is sporting the wearable.
It’s a snazzy pet toy, but a word of caution: It is also an expensive one. The devices cost between $90 to $130, along with a monthly data subscription ranging from $6.95 to $9.95.
If that seems a bit high of a price to pay, fear not. CNN made a handy list of pet presents for under $25 that are less technologically advanced, but more likely to actually be welcomed by your dog.
PYMNTS recommends the crocheted bunny ears snood Nordstom is selling – for just $15, you can celebrate National Dog Day while getting your dog a Halloween costume and a winter hat. We also guarantee you will win your chosen social media feed with the cutest dog photo.