National Dog Week

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It’s National Dog Week, now through September 25th! To celebrate, Vodka For Dog People is honored to share guest blogger Lisa Begin-Kruysman‘s story about the origin of this canine celebration. Lisa is the biographer of Captain William Lewis Judy, the man who established National Dog Week in the 1920s, as well as the author of four additional titles, each celebrating the human-canine bond. In 2015, her book Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher was nominated for a Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA). Lisa has maintained a pet-centric blog for six years, and recently curated an on-line exhibit for the Animal History Museum, headquartered in Los Angeles.

Dog's Best Friend

Part 1:
History of National Dog Week

Will Judy was born in 1891 in rural Pennsylvania. Mature in his youth, he was appointed as his small town’s school teacher and groomed for the ministry. But young Will had other plans — he enrolled in Juniata College and informed the community elders that he was off to see the world. He obtained his law degree before enlisting in the Army, and returned from overseas as a decorated war veteran.

In 1923, Judy found his true calling when he purchased Dog World Magazine for a pittance. He would serve as its editor and publisher for five decades educating dog enthusiasts and a growing population of American dog owners.

Will Judy Care of the Dog

Yes, Judy was a consummate dog expert — from dog breeding, dog show handling and judging, dog anatomy, American dog law and even kennel construction. His most enduring legacy however was to encourage Americans to regard dogs as sentient beings, championing their physical and emotional welfare.

In 1928, Judy launched National Dog Week which is still observed the last full week of each September.

There is no doubt that Will Judy would salute the efforts of Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s Vodka for Dog People program, and its support of Emancipet. The mission of Vodka for Dog People is within reach: to make spay/neuter services and veterinary care affordable and accessible to all those who care for companion animals, and to work toward a future where all pets are happy, healthy, and living with families whose lives they enrich.

— Lisa

Part 2:
“A Dog in Every Home; Bringing Dog Week Back!”National Dog Week Poster 2011

The following is an excerpt from Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher.

“National Dog Week Almost Got by Unnoticed,” bemoaned a headline in the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia on September 20, 1934. The article began with the statement, “Here it is Thursday of National Dog Week and not a thing done about it.” The news item told of how local dog lover George Berner, colleague and business associate of Will Judy, had personally reminded the city desk about the week, but nothing had been done to promote it locally. Upset at the prospect of the week slipping by unobserved, he took it upon himself to distribute “25 posters and 1,000 small stickers” promoting that year’s slogan, “A Dog in Every Home.” (McFarland & Co. – 2014)

Here we are, 82 years later, and many people (and news outlets) still don’t even know that there is a National Dog Week. Or if they do, they think that it’s a newly concocted “cutesy” observance. At those times, I feel the gentle presence of Judy, nodding in bemused disbelieve, saying to me, “And you want to be my Dog Week Sales Rep?” I do my best. But the good news is that there really is a National Dog Week, and it has endured and inspired throughout so many decades. In 2011, Oregon-based artist Donald E. Brown generously rendered a beautiful NDW poster with the theme: Help.” The image was inspired by a then-homeless dog named Sergio who was sheltered at the Baja Animal Sanctuary at the time (BAS is an amazing organization serving the homeless dogs of Mexico and Southern California). Donald was a supporter of the program and wanted to help – literally and figuratively! This year, I worked with an artist to render a logo for National Dog Week 2016 with the theme Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K9s.” This image is based on an illustration from one of Judy’s books. As National Dog Week winds down, we hope that you’ll find a way to celebrate, adding to the chapter of this occasions inspiring history  –– even the smallest observance matters!  

— Lisa

Part 3:
A Toast to National Dog Week

Teddy National Dog Week

Will Judy loved to write about his worldwide travels in the dog world, and shared with his readers personal information such as his choice of cocktail, “bourbon straight, a three ounce portion – no ice.” Judy would no doubt raise a toast to the folks at Tito’s Handmade Vodka for their work on behalf of dog welfare, not only literally in their own backyard, but throughout the nation, and for their willingness to keep National Dog Week in the homes and hearts of dog lovers.

While writing Dog’s Best Friend, I established a blog to promote National Dog Week and report on “The State of the Dog in the States of the Nation.” One aspect of dog welfare that intrigued me was the fostering of dogs. To write truthfully, I fostered a handful of dogs and was surprised at how quickly they were placed by the foster organization, making it a bit easier to say good-bye. But, as it is bound to happen, there is always that stray that will come to stay. In this case it was an adorable little black and white dog named Teddy. In a short period of time, Teddy made it clear — our house was his true home. In the “business” this is called “Foster Failure,” however, I prefer the term “Foster Fulfillment” because if a foster’s job is to find a dog a good and forever home, and it happens to be your home… well, that’s what I call fulfillment.

Writing about the true story behind National Dog Week and the contributions of its founder was a life-changing experience for me. The dog-human bond is unique, and so many take for granted all the ways in which dogs enrich our lives. Judy’s mission was to bring awareness to their unique place in the world’s history, and set aside one week in which dog-lovers could pay tribute to man’s best friend in an organized and collective manner. I truly thank Tito Beveridge and his staff for all their initiatives to make the nation a better place for dogs as well as the people who love and care for them, and for allowing me to share my work on behalf of the National Dog Week movement.

This National Dog Week, I suggested that a special Tito’s Handmade Vodka drink be created to honor the occasion and all those who work so hard to make the world a better place for our pets, like so many foster groups and families. We present: Teddy’s Tito’s Bananas Foster (for those who are bananas about dogs!)

— Lisa

Teddy’s Tito’s Bananas Foster

  • 1 oz Tito’s Handmade Vodka 
  • 1 oz banana liqueur
  • 0.5 oz white crème de cocoa
  • 0.5 oz butterscotch schnapps
  • 2 Tbsp lite cream

Build in a cocktail glass in order listed. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and/or scribble with chocolate and butterscotch topping. 


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