In the process or researching, writing, and submitting a book about National Dog Week, I am reminded of the movie The Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, and Toto, Hooper and I have come to know places far from familiar territory. Hooper’s image can now be seen worldwide, and each day, I am contacted, or reach out to, individuals in worlds I have not been part of until now.
Like Dorothy following her yellow brick road, around each turn I meet “characters” that wish to join me on my journey. Each, like the scarecrow, tin man, and lion, bring brainy ideas, a lot of heart, and give me the courage when I’m off to see “The Wizard,” which in my case is a publisher, or literary agent! In a writer’s world that is often fraught with rejection, dismissiveness, and skepticism, courage is a much desired, and necessary quality.
Intelligence, heart, and courage; all of these characteristics were evident in the late, great, Captain Arthur Haggerty, perhaps no more so when in 2005, he set out to pay tribute to his hero, William Judy, and his goals for National Dog Week. In launching a web site for this observance, Haggerty sought to have National Dog Week honored in a way it had been in the past. Unfortunately, the original site is no longer available to all us us, taken over by a commercial dog supplier who probably never heard of Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week (invitation to prove me wrong, here)!
Reading my treasured, worn copy of Haggerty’s site, I am always inspired to carry on with my book, even when I am discouraged by nay sayers, and people who just don’t get it. This legendary dog trainer to the stars truly spoke to the every man, seeing every single person as an instrument to do some good in the world, especially when it came to dogs.
Intelligence, heart, courage, easy to define, and spot, right? But apparently, those qualities are in the eye of the beholder. Take for instance, the fact that NFL star Michael Vick, has been chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles to receive the Ed Block Courage Award in March. This award, established for a man who worked on behalf of abused and neglected children, is awarded each year by team mates of each NFL team, to a player who has overcome insurrmountable difficultes. In this case, Mr. Vick.
Understandably, this has enraged PETA, and dog lovers everywhere. For those who don’t know, last July, Michael Vick was released from prison after serving time for his participation in illegal dog fighting rings, a nasty, senseless side-business for this misunderstood, “underpaid” athelete. According to Vick’s friends and team mates (and press agent?), Vick has done his time and is remorseful for his mistakes, reaching out to young people to educate them in proper ways to treat animals.
We can all stomp around, being outraged, cursing Vick, wanting him to be treated like the dogs he maimed and killed. But in this nation, big money, and big sports rule, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Instead, take all that energy and start planning something positive for this year’s National Dog Week in September, just about when football season is really getting started. The bigger problem may be that we, as a nation, have forgotten about the real role models of the world, like the person who put something as meaningful as National Dog Week on the American calendar. Now, you can say that you know about this seven day salute to the canine and bring to light all the work that still has to be done for the dogs of the nation.
William Lewis Judy, while condeming Vick’s actions, would perhaps call upon his training in the ministry to find forgiveness for Michael Vick, but I don’t think he would forget. And neither should we.
Coming soon, an interview with Josh Abrams, founder of dog-friendly website, Dogasaur!