There’s a day or week for everything – the day for love just passed, and Ballroom Dancing Week is coming in September – but dog lovers across the country want everyone to know that an especially important day is coming up, Monday, Feb. 22 is National Walking Your Dog Day.

The origins of the day are a little murky – actually, pretty much unknown – but some suggest it could have its roots in the start of the profession of dog walking, which is thought to have begun in New York City in the early 1960s when an enterprising man named Jim Buck began charging money to walk the dogs of busy New Yorkers.

Regardless, the day now falls on Feb. 22 each year, and the day’s promoters want to stress the importance of both human and animal exercise – and also of treating man’s best friend well.

 The day raising the awareness of the importance of walking your dog regularly was no doubt much more needed before March 2020, when people began walking their dogs 40 or 50 times a day because there was nothing else to do. (Pandemics are bad for people but they are great for dogs – just ask the staff of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, which at times in 2020 was running out of animals for people to adopt.)

The demand for dogs to walk and to love has hit such a high level in the pandemic that on Tuesday, Feb.16, Inside Edition broadcast a special report on the rise of dog-napping in the US, including a story of a couple that was robbed of their dog at gunpoint while walking it.  In that case, two men – one with a rifle – jumped out of the car and nabbed the pooch.  (The dog was recovered and the thieves weren’t caught.)

Advocates of National Walking Your Dog Day are encouraging people to choose a new trail, path or route for their dog on Monday and also to give him or her a special treat.

Veterinarian Stephanie Wenban, who was a co-founder of Front of the Pack – a canine supplement company – stated that regular exercise is important for both you and your dogs.

“An estimated 66 percent of dogs across America today suffer from poor joint health,” she stated in a press release promoting the day. “Our dogs are leading longer and more adventurous lives than ever before, so it is important to consider joint health from a young age,” Wenban said. “There are preventative steps that can help to keep your dog active and mobile throughout his or her life.”

She encourages people to start walking their dogs at an early age and vary its exercise by doing something other than throwing the dog a ball to retrieve.  She also stresses the need for owners to watch the dog’s weight, take it to the vet regularly and make sure the animal has proper nutrition and any needed supplements.