The Dog-Celebrating Holiday You Never Knew About

Who's a good boy? You are! Yes, you are! Who chased that vicious squirrel away? You did! Yes, you did! And who lets us know, every single day except Sunday, that the Post Office people are here? You do! Yes, you do!

Just as for human beings, let's face it: There are dogs who do heroic deeds on behalf of all of creation — K-9 Corps, Lassie helping rescue Timmy from the well again, Balto delivering the serum to Nome. But just as with humans, most dogs live a relatively mundane existence — same-old, same-old. And just as for human beings — parents, for instance — maybe we should sit up and pay attention to the miracle right under our noses, the miracle that is the modern dog.

(There is, apparently, a National Dog Day, established in 2004 and occurring annually on August 26. The same individual claims to have given us National Puppy Day, National Cat Day, and National Mutt Day. We didn't know, either. You're welcome.)

Red markings, flower garlands, and special food are all part of the festivities

In Nepal, they take the lesson to heart, says the BBC, and they take it even further. During the five-day Hindu festival of Tihar, one day is set aside as "Kukur Tihar," or "Day of the Dogs." Canine companions, as well as strays who are amenable, receive a red dot on their forehead, flower garlands, and are offered meat, milk, eggs, and high-end dog food (which, we're betting, the dogs happily receive — the food, that is). The BBC goes on to tell us that Hindus believe that dogs are special messengers of "Yamaraj — the God of death — and by keeping the dogs in good humour they will be able to appease Yamaraj himself." Sort of taking "love me, love my dog" to its logical extreme.

Before dog-lovers get too excited, remember that the festival also celebrates cows and crows. Besides trying to stay on the good side of Yamaraj, Nepalese Hindus take the festival as an opportunity to clean houses and courtyards, light lamps — it's also known as a Festival of Lights — and pray to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth.

Unlike National Dog Day, which is fixed, the dates of Tihar vary from year to year. In 2020, it will begin on November 15, according to Public Holidays Asia. You have time to get ready. Who's a good dog owner? You are! Yes, you are!