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This post received the North Shore Animal League America Special Award given by the Dog Writer’s Association of America on February 12, 2017 for excellence in the writing on the topic of Spay and Neuter Initiatives in the nation.
A colleague in the animal advocacy community once declared, “We can’t rescue ourselves out of this mess,” when discussing the seemingly never-ending problem of pet overpopulation. For many, Spay and Neuter initiatives are regarded as the most humane form of rescue and advocacy. If we can stem the tide of unwanted pets, we can offer better care for those animals that will inevitably find themselves unhomed despite our best efforts.
At the BlogPaws conference in Phoenix Arizona in June, this topic seemed to “find” me as I became aware of how groups in different parts of the nation addressed these issue. BlogPaws represents the largest community of pet-professionals, advocates and writers in the world, with the common goal to improve the lives of companion animals. We sometimes, forget, however, that different regions of the nation face unique challenges when advocating for our companion animals.
At BlogPaws, I met Krystyn Bleda, a life time animal advocate from New Mexico. Krystyn and her husband, Raymond Sandor, are the co-founders of Desert Paws, Inc. animal rescue. Residing in Cochiti Lake, a small leasehold town on the Pueblo de Cochiti Indian Reservation, the couple with a slew of volunteers provides hands-on rescue, caregiving and transportation for Spay and Neuter procedures and veterinary care for tribal members animals from the neighboring three Pueblos.
Krystyn explains, “Moving from New York in 2003, we launched Desert Paws Inc. when we realized that there was an urgent need to help homeless, unwanted and injured animals in this area. Animals were being abandon, wandering around looking for food, warmth, help, some were killed on the road by vehicles, dumped from moving cars, close to death, some old, blind and unwanted. We obtained medical care for each one and then each was placed in foster homes, trained and finally placed into forever homes.”
Eventually, the Governor of the Cochiti tribe invited them to sit down and discuss possible solutions to address this situation. Krystyn and her husband developed a low/no cost Spay and Neuter program and worked with a local veterinarian, developing a solution on how to handle their appointments and emergencies. They were also able to attract several long term donors to help sponsor their Spay and Neuter program specializing in a tribal setting.
The challenges of animal advocacy in these rural, sovereign tribal communities are unique and significant. Although, many individuals care deeply about their pets, due to lack of resources on and around tribal lands many cannot easily obtain basic veterinary care, including Spay and Neuter procedures. As one of the poorest states in the nation, with a general population that is not well informed about the benefits of Spay and Neuter and lack law in their enforcement of inhumane chaining of dogs and backyard breeding, the municipal shelters of New Mexico are burdend by overcrowding.
Previously, veterinary students had come to the area to perform Spay and Neuter procedures, however, it didn’t work in many areas due to the lack of participation from locals. Many of the animals in the community are free-roaming, never even having been in a vehicle or a house making for surgery “round-up” efforts very difficult. In addition, tribal lands present unique challenges due to cultural beliefs stemming from agricultural lifestyles. People are not well- informed about common pet illnesses, treatment possibilities and yearly veterinary maintenance of a dogs or cats such as vaccines, heartworm, flea/tick prevention methods, and transmittable diseases.
In thinking outside the box, Desert Paws Inc. launched their current program, “Door2Door Spay/Neuter & Veterinary Care” about 3 years ago. In this successful initiative, Desert Paws Inc. volunteers pick-up animals from homes and bring them to their vet’s clinic where the Spay and Neuter procedure is safely performed. Raymond explains, however, “Our biggest challenge is transportation. Volunteers use their own cars to transport animals to our veterinary clinic that is over an hour away. Each Tuesday 3-5 animals arrive by 9:30 am and their stomachs must be empty. The following day, another 3-5 animals arrive and the animals brought in the day prior are returned safely to their families for monitoring and the process is repeated. Often, pets requiring other veterinarian treatments, such as for tick-born illnesses, bite wounds or surgeries for broken bones are brought in for medical attention, also.”
Krystyn points out the significant impact of strong Spay and Neuter initiatives. “For every dog, or cat, that is spayed or neutered, the births of six to twenty unwanted puppies and kittens are prevented. Pueblo de Cochiti, has a population of 1,500 people. With about two to four dogs per household (many of them are female) you can figure there are many dozens of reproducing moms at any given time that can typically produce a litter of 6-12 annually. That’s hundreds of pups born each year! Allowing for the fact that many of their offspring will not make it to adulthood, the area could still see a very substantial population spurt each year without a spay and neuter program in place. The cycle just repeats itself, growing and growing without intervention.”
Raymond notes that Cochiti Pueblo is one of the smaller pueblos, and now the goal of Desert Paws Inc. is to help the larger neighboring pueblos of Santo Domingo and San Felipe, and later on possibly expand the programs into the Navajo Reservation farther west and north.
Krystyn stresses that she and her husband could not accomplish all of this alone, saying, “Thanks to the relentless efforts of our board member and volunteer coordinator, Margaret Evans, we now have the best volunteer crew!” In order to grow and accomplish more, however, they are looking for more funding and sponsorship for the rescue and a reliable, newer vehicle for transport is needed immediately. In the very near future, Desert Paws Inc. also hopes to raise funds to purchase a building, which they will convert into a surgery/veterinary clinic and hold/recovery facility in a more closer, central location.
It is clear that Desert Paws Inc. and the Cochiti Pueblo’s government came together at the right time to prevent the cycle of pet over-population in their native land. Through community collaboration, the dog and cat populations have lessened and its animal (and human) members are much happier and becoming healthier. These ground-breaking efforts have created a model that can be and need to be replicated elsewhere whether on sovereign tribal lands or on any rural areas in America. Small rescues can and need to play a huge part of these efforts and state governments need to offer a helping hand (and financial sponsorship) for such rescue organizations and their programs.
Krystyn is also aware of the power of the written word. She credits the blogging community for helping to spread the news about Desert Paws Inc. and their success. With conferences like the one recently organized by BlogPaws, Krystyn and her husband have faith that those who attended can use their blogging and writing expertise and influence to help increase awareness, share ideas and assist with the nation-wide implementation of programs like those started and offered by Desert Paws Inc. To learn more about Desert Paws Inc. or to sponsor their efforts/programs please visit their website at www.desertpawsnm.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been a hot summer here on the East Coast. But nothing beats the heat of Chandler, AZ, the place to which I travelled for the Blog Paws conference in June. BlogPaws is the world’s only organization comprised of pet bloggers and authors. Although it was extremely hot outside, I heard so many cool speakers inside it was well-balanced! A shout out for the top-rate facility and gracious staff of the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.
For me, it was a whirlwind experience; I attended many workshops and events and also got to participate in a Speaking panel and lead a lunch-table discussion. I was inspired by many and hope I was able to do so for others.
Here it is now, the end of August and I spend my time working with my hardworking agent, Donna Eastman of the Parkeast Literary agency. We’ve got some interesting projects circulating and working as a team, we hope that the right editor will reward us and lend their expertise and experience to bring these books to fruition (that’s fancy-talk for grant us a book contract(s)). Who knows what fall will bring. I thank all of you who continue to be so supportive and encouraging.
There’s also my work on behalf of National Dog Week and my promotion of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland& Co., 2014) – the only account of Judy’s life and work ever written. It is filled with and interesting account of one man’s influence on America’s love-affair with its canines achieved through Judy’s prolific publishing, writing and editing efforts over the course of five decades.
This year, we declare that National Dog Week begins on Sunday, September 18th. But, if you wish to begin on Monday, or keep on celebrating the following week…no one will fault you! This year’s theme? “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K9s” where dog-lovers utilize the power of the paw to encourage literacy and strengthen the dog-human bond. Does your library welcome Therapy Dogs, or does your shelter allow young people to read to the dogs?
I will also be guest blogging for the dog-loving folks at Tito’s Vodka for Dog People during National Dog Week. This all-American company founded by “Tito” Beveridge fifteen years ago is sharing its growth and success to benefit canine well-fare across the nation.
I am currently preparing for the Seaside Park Art Show held on September 3rd in Ocean County, New Jersey, combining my “dog writing” and art as presented in the work below. I hope you enjoy this scene that captures the magic of a fleeting season. Happy “Dog-ust”.
Barking News: Looking forward my participation in a Publishing-industry Speaker’s Panel with the Cat Writers Association of America and during a session with the BlogPaws folks this weekend! Temperatures are soaring, but we’ll be inside exploring…during so many fabulous sessions surrounded by some lovely pets! Check out my recent contribution to Ruff Drafts https://dogwriters.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2016springsummer_members.pdf– page 11 , the official newsletter of the DWAA where I discuss my work with Laura Pople of Seer Farms. If you are part of the Yahoo on-line reading group DogRead, please join me as I discuss Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher. I am their featured author through June 30th! We are having a very nostalgic look back in time via our love affair (and Will Judy’s) with man’s best friend. And…Look for updates on the launch of my new kid’s Picture Book, Teddy Two-Tone and the Seven Days of Dog Week written for the youngest of eyes. I may have lots of questions when I attend a session presented by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, at BlogPaws. Happy summer!
“We like cats. They furnish running exercise for dogs and always win the race. They are a living, moving thing of beauty, softness and grace. They and the birds are among the few animals that wash themselves.” Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, 1949
As I excitedly prepare to attend the 8th BlogPaws/CWA Conference in Phoenix later this month, it is not lost on me that although I have been writing and blogging about canines for several years now, in Phoenix, I will be part of a publishing-industry speaking panel organized by the Cat Writers Association of America. Preparing for this event has made me nostalgic.
Yes, I love dogs, but the truth is, more cats have blessed my life than dogs, and as I’ve discussed in past posts, I grew up in a menagerie masquerading as a house of humans.
My very first pet (although I barely recall) was a grey tiger striped kitten named mittens (I presume she had white paws). My only real memory of her was the day she jumped on our huge Christmas tree, toppling it full force onto our living room floor. The memories stop there.
Two bunnies followed – and I proceeded to let them out of their hutches early each morning only to have them return to their homes each evening (Don’t judge, I was 7 and it was the mid-1960s).
I also recall daily kick ball games that took place on our dead end street. One late afternoon, a mysterious car stopped and deposited a large duffle bag on to the curb. In those pre-terrorist days not filled with warnings of “see something, say something” we had no fear. We raced to the moving bag and unzipped it, “unleashing” a parent’s worst nightmare; contained in that writhing bag were five gorgeous kittens suitable for Hallmark greeting card images.
We convinced our parents to let us foster them, (they were so adorable we had no trouble placing them). Gypsy, a black and white cat stayed with us and being an unaltered female, we faced the inevitable (don’t judge – it was the late-1960s). A year later, on the Fourth of July, my father was drawn to our garage by a strange wailing. Inside an open drawer that contained a folded American flag, rested one perfectly formed tri-color newborn kitten (red, white and black). My brother named him Jefferson.
Much later, my brother Matt (RIP) answered (in a pre-Craig’s List world) a free-to-good-home ad for a kitten. I’ll never forget coming home from college for a holiday visit in 1977, expecting to meet a tiny ball of fur only to meet Morrison (named after Jim Morrison) a cat much older than I had expected. My brother, upon meeting this charming young cat, couldn’t help but bring him home. Morrie lived life as an indoor outdoor cat (Don’t judge, it was the late 70s) and yes, he was neutered. He was one of the best family pets we’ve ever had.
Next came a little tortoise-shell cat that Matt brought home from a construction site. We named her Pita (short for pain in the you-know-what). Pita was a clingy sweet heart with a good disposition. Just a few years ago, after a very long life of over 21 years, she said good bye and went off to die in peace at a time of her own choosing.
So much has changed in the world, I recall a time when carefree kids ran about in the outdoor world, accompanied by their pets. Kids and pets need that, and so do we. So, on days when you are feeling frazzled by tweeting, pinning, instagramming, blogging and snap-chatting about your own pets and those of others, remember to unplug and take a break and enjoy this beautiful season.
Be it fur, hair, fins, hooves, or scales, we engage our hearts when we share our tales…It doesn’t matter our topic, good writing will engage almost anyone and you can even educate others in the process.
What a terrific opportunity it is when we get to sit and chat with fellow authors and bloggers. It doesn’t happen often enough. If you are attending the CWA/Blog Paws Conference – please join me for my sessions: Friday, June 24th at 2:30 (joined by members of the pet-book publishing industry) and Saturday at noon, for a lunch time Table Topic about all things “writing”. If you don’t, and I have to sit alone, I might just revert to Middle School behavior – throwing spit balls (or hair balls), making fun of what your cats and dogs are wearing (I would NEVER do that), taking selfies, and passing notes, when the lunch monitors are not looking! Happy travels.
Preparing for my participation in the fast-approaching Cat Writers of America/BlogPaws Conference in Arizona this June, I reflect on the past six years and my own path to becoming an author. Back then, I wondered if I’d ever get a book completed, published and promoted, let alone be invited to talk about it at a conference!
Today, I am happy to say that I have birthed five books, with several in various stages of production and review. Although my primary topic has focused on canines, and those who celebrate them, I am open to any topic that fascinates me including sports, history, and travel.
While I have averaged a book a year, nothing has unfolded as planned, and in many ways, I feel I am just warming up and I didn’t even begin writing “siriusly” until 2010.
Whenever someone learns that I am an author, they quickly tell me that their friend, or a family member, has written a book (congrats), or, that they, them, themselves, have a great idea for a book. In truth, many of these ideas are very good and have potential, but the big question is, how will they get their idea on the path to publication?
If their book idea falls under the category of Non-Fiction (memoir, how-to, history) there is one phrase that separates the wannabe author from the true “story-teller” who is willing to go-the-distance and endure the rocky road to get it all down and done…the Full Book Proposal.
I am always glad to help those in their authoring journey within reason, however, if they aspire to write Non-Fiction, the first thing they will receive from me are examples and templates for creating a strong Full Proposal, which typically is comprised of several parts that requiring a GREAT deal of thought, planning, research and editing. That Proposal, is your book’s blue print, and will also require something called a Query, a few short paragraphs that accompanies the Proposal – that will make an agent or editor want to dive in to your Proposal, and take your book out of the “Slush” pile.
This is part of what I will be speaking about at the BlogPaws Conference in Phoenix come June, in the company of so many other bloggers, reporters, authors, publishers and social media specialists. As someone who has worked with agents, and publishers, I will be asking my personal partners in the publishing world for advice that I can share with those attending the BlogPaws Conference to help them to create strong, saleable projects. I will also discuss Fiction projects that have their own special guidelines.
The CWA/BlogPaws event is open to anyone, at any level, who wishes to learn more about writing for the pet-industry, and beyond. Once you learn the basics of writing a great Proposal, Query and Cover Letter or a sensational Synopsis, the writing process will flow and if being a published author is your goal, you will be on the “write” path and enjoying the journey and all the emotions it is sure to invoke.
I look forward to learning so much this June. Bring your Proposals (and your ideas) Want to know more, or to make your reservation?: http://blogpaws.com/events/2016-conference/
Keep current on National Dog Week and “Paw-thor” News at: http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com
In March, it was announced that National Dog Week 2016 had a new theme and logo! Today, on this blog launched to promote NDW, we present “Readers Unleashed: Promoting Literacy with K-9s.” We hope you love its logo, too, and will share with those groups and organizations that will help to promote this initiative.
As many are curious about these programs, we invited our friend Bocker Labradoodle to share his experience through a dog’s-eye-view. For more about “Reading to the Dogs” and National Dog Week, please visit the Today Show Parenting Team Site: http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/national-dog-week-2016-will-have-kids-pawsing-to-read
Can any dog wander into the library and be read to by a student? If not, what special training does a dog need to be part of reading programs in libraries and schools? No, a dog just can’t walk into a library or a school. A dog has to be certified with a therapy dog group in order to take part in reading programs whether they are in a library or a school. It’s not so much training, but the dog must pass a certification test with a therapy group in order to act as a therapy dog. Dogs need to be calm, gentle, not easily frightened by noises or sudden movements. There are certain rules to be followed by both dog and handlers. Of course, there is the matter of insurance and the therapy dog organization holds insurance for their dogs who visit certain facilities.
How long have you been listening to student readers? I passed my therapy dog certification test when I was about three years old. The first read program in which I participated was called Tail Wagging Tutors, in 2008.
How do you get your reading “jobs”? The therapy group that I have been certified with had a Tail Wagging Tutors group. A local elementary school made it part of the school day for these certified dogs to come and be read to once a week for an hour. The young people that wanted to take part were excused from their regular class for that hour. The classes were held in the school library.
Are some students afraid of you and your reading dog friends? If so, how do you help them overcome their fear? In therapy visits to schools, I have come across children who have been afraid of dogs for one reason or another. We have tried on occasion for the teacher to approach me with the child and almost always by the end of the session, the child is petting me and feeling like they made a huge step forward. It’s so rewarding for the child, the teacher, and of course me.
What happens if a student is allergic to dogs? There is no such thing as a purely hypo-allergenic dog, although some dogs have less dander. I’m sure it would be at the discretion of the family if a child has allergies.
Do you see children improve their reading after a few visits with them? It’s very easy to spot children who improve with their reading after a short time. We pups are non-judgmental and children are at ease reading to us, so they are more apt to enjoy reading and think of it as fun. By reading more, they obviously become better readers. Studies have been done and show how reading scores increase.
Do you have a special story or moment you can share about your work? Yes, the children would usually bring their own books to read and on one occasion one of the boys just came in with a notebook. We asked where his books were and he said someone at home had gotten ill and he had to go stay with a grandparent at night and he didn’t have his books. He said because he didn’t have the books he usually reads, he had written a story for me. It was a story about how much I meant to him and how much he loved reading with me. Very special to say the least.
How can schools and libraries find certified dogs to visit them? Therapy groups usually have lists of schools and libraries in their area that wish to take part in reading programs. Otherwise, schools/libraries can find out what Therapy groups work in their area and contact them. The elementary school I went to had an actual approved program that took part once a week during school hours in the school’s library. That was terrific.
What are your favorite books? I love anything that is read to me. So much fun to find out the different interests of each child I read with. So I get a great mix…stories about friends, animal stories, superheroes, science, sports.
Have you ever written any books of your own? Yes. My book is Chasing Bocker’s Tale. It’s about my early life and how I got involved in so many different things and found so many ways to help others. I have been invited to Libraries so children can read my book. It’s so much fun and I usually give them copies, pawtographed, of course, to take home.
We thank Bocker and his mom, Marie, for taking time to share with us!
If you wish to share your “Reading to the Dogs” story with us, please comment or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
“Between the attitude toward the dog of those far past centuries and the attitude of today is a vast journey in the direction of kindness and a heart of sympathy.” Will Judy, 1949
On Valentine’s Day, my husband Rich and I headed into New York City for the Dog Writers Association of America’s Awards banquet. Fittingly, my book, (a true labor of love), Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week, and Dog World Publisher, had received a Maxwell Medallion nomination in the Reference category. As Judy was highly influential in the establishment of the DWAA back in 1935, and Maxwell Riddle was his protégé, it was quite an honor. Alas, we did not bring home the Maxwell but some stellar connections were made and more books are in progress. One of them a collaboration with Laura Pople, founder of Seer Farms, will share the poignant stories of the people and pets of this special place.
Located in a rural area of New Jersey, Seer Farms was founded in 2009 by Laura and her board, to embrace the mission that our pets are truly family members and no circumstance should ever separate them from us. Seer Farms is a facility that will take in the family cat(s) or dog(s) (and occasional “other” creature) of those in need and care for them until the situation permits pets and people to reunite under one roof. These pets come to her as the result of military deployments, domestic violence, natural disasters and from pet owners who are going through challenging times and need a hand in caring for their pets until more fortunate circumstances prevail. By offering this unique opportunity, many pets are saved from abandonment and uncertain fates.
I had the opportunity to meet Laura recently when Rich, and dog, Teddy, helped me deliver a collection of donated supplies. During our visit, we met a woman who was there to spend time with two of her dogs that are being cared for by the facility. Deb told us that she had lost her home in Hurricane Sandy, and like many others, still had not fully recovered from that life-changing event of three and a half years ago. Her home is in the process of being raised and when that is complete, she and her dogs will enjoy their special Reunion Day when they hop into her car and take that much-awaited ride home. Deb appreciates these visits but notes that at the end of each, her dogs try to lead her to the car so that they can go home with her. As someone who personally witnessed the devastation of that storm, I can attest to how important this oasis has been for so many.
I can’t think of a happier event than the occasion of something like Reunion Day – having your beloved pet once again by your side, – having come through the worst of times, and now, ready to provide comfort and support to each other as their journey continues.
In her actions and her life’s work, Laura and her staff and board, have made a major difference in the lives of animals, and the humans who love them. Their work and mission fully embrace what Will Judy wrote so many years ago, “Between the attitude toward the dog of those far past centuries and the attitude of today is a vast journey in the direction of kindness and a heart of sympathy.”
I thank all those who contributed to our Seer Farms supply drive: Maureen Johnson and the Sayer and Schoberg Families, Bonnie Werkmeister, Boy Scout Pack 16 of Pt. Pleasant, NJ, Skittles (the Bichon) Barros and the members of the Junior Auxiliary Unit of American Legion Post 348 in Brick, NJ.
Recovery, Reunion, Renewal….that is the goal of Seer Farms. To read more about this unique sheltering model, its staff and volunteers:http://seerfarms.org/
Come join in the fun and hear me speak about writing for the pet-industry and beyond at the Blog Paws Conference in Phoenix, AZ June 23-25. https://www.pinterest.com/blogpaws/blogpaws-conference-photos/
“The public should be taught to demand a sound, healthy dog, bred and raised in sanitary environment…” Captain Wm. Lewis Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher
Far too often, people continue to support the puppy mill system with their purchases of dogs at retail outlets. To protect the buyer, and to put a stop to the secretive abhorrent practices of the puppy milling business, laws are created and passed, however, the enforcement of these laws must occur to bring about positive change. We can end all this if we choose to adopt our pets, or to work with breeders who truly love and care about the dogs they bring into the world, even after the sale is complete. If you truly love all dogs, you understand.
Thank you Janice Patterson Fisher for this update found below and your work on behalf of our dogs.
As some of you know, a new consumer protection law became effective on June 1, 2015 enhancing the Puppy Lemon Law for all customers buying a puppy from a pet store in the state of New Jersey. This law is the Pet Store Disclosure Act that specifically requires pet stores to provide specific breeder information on each cage cards, including two years’ worth of USDA inspection reports for the breeder/broker of any puppy offered for sale in a pet store. Cage cards must now include: breeder name, address, e-mail address, if available, USDA-license number. Most importantly, no New Jersey pet store may buy puppies from a breeder unless he possesses a USDA license and a state license, if a state license is required.
For many years, New Jersey pet stores refused to divulge breeder information to customers until the sale of a puppy was complete. The only logical reason for this is that they shuttered to think what a customer would feel should they know the truth…that these puppies are mass bred in commercial facilities known as puppy mills. According to the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs (a premium club consisting of over 80 breed-specific clubs), no responsible breeder would sell to a pet store. Therefore, New Jersey pet stores had but one source: puppy mills.
Even with this law in effect, the majority of New Jersey pet stores have not fully complied. Despite visits and warnings from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and assistance from New Jersey animal advocates, these stores appeared to hedge their bets that the state would not truly enforce the penalties. But they were wrong; in December, these stores received an early Christmas present in the “package” of Notices of Violation – Fines – from the state for failure to adhere to the law.
Some stores have complained that their errors were clerical. Not so. Each and every store was visited by state investigators. A copy of the law was provided. Time was provided to them to come into compliance.
The law is simple to read. Provide specific breeder information on the cage cards and conspicuously post USDA inspection reports on or near the cage. Not hard to follow. These stores obviously chose not to follow the law and continue to hide the fact that the puppies they sell come from despicable brokers and breeders.
Let’s hope that these fines teach the puppy-milling industry a lesson….they are not above the law and all consumers have a right to know how a product is manufactured. In this case, and unfortunately, the product is a living being – a puppy and it is “manufactured” in the most inhumane way.
Happy New Year. 2015 ended with some amazing news surrounding Dog’s Best Friend and my work on behalf of the National Dog Week Movement. I thank so many of you for your interest and support and wish you all a very rewarding and successful New Year!
Who Let the Dogs In? New Online Exhibit Captures the Legacy of Captain Will Judy and National Dog Week
In collaboration with Amy Breyer, Executive Director of the Animal History Museum, I am pleased to announce that my online exhibit was successfully curated and went live on the museum’s site in December. This innovative exhibit, titled “Who Let the Dogs In?”, chronicles the inspiring history of National Dog Week and its founder, Captain William Lewis Judy.
Americans have enjoyed a long-time love affair with animals – domesticated and wild. However, despite anecdotal evidence highlighting the important role that animals play in our lives, there has been little formal, institutional acknowledgement of their significance. To fill that void, the Animal History Museum seeks to explore, honor and advance our understanding of the complex and evolving nature of man’s interactions with, and relationship to, the other species around us. The museum’s mission: understanding and celebrating the human-animal bond.
Established online in January 2012, the Animal History Museum is being developed by a team of professionals who are passionate about all things animal, serving and educating all ages and segments of the general public. With the establishment of a physical site in Los Angeles County, California, the Animal History Museum will become the leading facility in the nation designed solely for the collection, preservation and exploration of the history, culture, science and law relating to the relationship between human and non-human animals.
The museum’s website offers several other inspiring online exhibits as well, including: “The Wildlife Photography of Donald D. Feare”, “Stories of Older Animal Adoption”, “Sit, Stay, Say Cheese! The Early History of Animal Photography, 1850-1915”, “Breaking Stereotypes: America’s Pit Bull Rescues and the Human Animal Bond”, and “I’m Ready for My Close-up Mr. Casteel: The Making of Underwater Dogs.”
As the author of Will Judy: Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co.), I am honored to be part of an establishment dedicated to presenting exhibitions, lectures, and other activities that are consistent with, and supportive of, the museum’s educational goals and purpose.
Captain Will Judy, as he was known, was a pioneer in the dog-care industry, and one of the founders of the DWAA. As a prolific writer, author and publisher of Dog World Magazine for decades, Judy almost single-handedly shaped the way modern dogs are regarded in America. Most importantly, he was responsible for making sure the nation’s dogs got their week, and still do, during the last full week of September each year with National Dog Week
In 1949, on writing about patients in veterans’ hospitals and the role of dogs in their treatment and recovery Will Judy wrote,”The presence and companionship of dogs, the observation of their playful antics has helped patients on their way back to normal thinking and living.”
In 2010, upon commencing my research and writing of the biography of Captain William Lewis Judy, I reached out to those in the dog community. One of those individuals was Rose Russo who helped me on my path to “dogdom” by sharing her personal experience and insight on the importance of dogs in our lives. As this year’s theme for National Dog Week is “At Your Service-All-ways” I invited Rose to be our guest blogger responding to the question, “How have dogs impacted your life when coping with life’s challenges?” We arethankful that she agreed to be our special guest blogger for the 87 Observance of National Dog Week.
“If you are lucky enough to have a service dog then the person you should be thanking is Will Judy. Will Judy was an attorney; soldier and author who realized that dogs serve not only as pets but can assist soldiers in their everyday life and help them cope with the tragedy of war. His instrumental work on National Dog week allows all of us to now have this growing phenomenon, and allows those of us who suffer from physical and mental tragedies to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.
Service Dogs are a very underutilized medical necessity. They have changed the lives of the blind and assist many other in daily life tasks so essential to survival. Even at a time when many are complaining that the use of service dogs has risen unnecessarily, they are an essential need for many.
I could not function without my service dogs. On Sept 11, 2001, I was a New York City Detective. While assisting in the recovery efforts I suffered a disabling nerve disorder (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome) that will continue to get worse over time. For many years I had difficulty – mentally and physically – with daily life tasks. My anxiety and depression was at an all time high. It was then that I was introduced to the possibility of a service dog. I was skeptical to say the least. But after working with my girls (two King Charles spaniels) my life started to change.
I am now able to conduct many basic daily activities, such as a simple walk in the park, without tremendous fear and anxiety. Without my service dogs I could never have been able to fly again. They have been instrumental in my life and many others. Service dogs have assisted children with court room testimony and even teenagers going off to college being able to cope with life away from their family.
I am currently working with many individuals, especially police officers, who have been able to change their lives due to their service animal. One officer I have worked with was involved in a shooting and became confined to inside his home. He was unable to leave his home and return to work. Through the help of a service dog he has been able to regain the confidence to live his life to the fullest extent possible.
Service dogs are not only needed they are necessary for many to live a full and healthy life. But the program is not without faults. Many have abused the system and taken advantage of a program that was designed to assist those in dire need. Even the Americans with Disability Act allows some of this fraudulent activity by only allowing business owner to ask two basic questions of a patron with a service dog; is this dog used for a disability and what tasks does the dog perform? Without further investigation or proof this allows many to scam the system.
But just because of some fraudulent activity the system should not be broken down. States could easily provide licenses or endorsement on a driver’s license to make the service dog program more trusted and official.
Service dogs are an essential necessity for many and are helping those who suffer to function in life and even live life beyond what they had ever thought possible. As those coping with mental and physical disabilities become more understood, people will hopefully continue to see how necessary these dogs are to those unable to cope with the daily physical and mental activities of life and allow them to live the life they want and deserve.”
Thank you Rose for being an important part of the mission of Will Judy’s National Dog Week during its 87th Observance and beyond. We hope you all will LIKE our Facebook page and become part of its mission, too. Happy National Dog Week everyone. https://www.facebook.com/National-Dog-Week-218596591491974/timeline/ and visit www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com
Author’s Note: I so loved speaking at my town’s library last week. Great reception and I met this ten-year old girl who was fascinated with the story of Harriet White Fisher, her journey, and of course Harriet’s incredible traveling pets!
One of the nice aspects of writing Non-fiction and Biographies is getting to know the living ancestors of your subject matter; such was the case with Will Judy and Harriet White Fisher.
In writing a Father’s Day Tribute to Captain Will Judy, I thought it would be fun to include his Great Nephew, Al Judy who introduced himself to me via my Facebook Page established for Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Week and Dog World Publisher.
Al Judy was pleased to learn that his accomplished relative, Great Uncle “Bill” (as he was called by family I’ve recently learned) had been given his “day” and his legacy had been shared with the world!
Will Judy married later in life and had no children. However, he was a father-figure to many dogs in his lifetime, his, and the thousands of dogs or more (and their humans) who benefited from his wisdom, experience and guidance offered through the pages of his Dog World Magazine and numerous dog books.
Long before it was fashionable, Will Judy extolled the value of dogs in building good character in our children. He believed that youngsters who cared for dogs developed traits of kindness and responsibility, and developed parenting skills. Over the years, celebrations of National Dog Week included writing contests for kids and events planned by scout troops. National Dog Week was meant to educate everyone, including the young, on dog breeds, dogs who needed good homes, and the physical as well as emotional needs of all dogs.
Keep in mind he wrote about this in the 1930s and 40s, and it may be argued that in our contemporary throw-away society, with its penchant for instant gratification, Judy’s ideas may be viewed as outmoded. I would like to think his views are still valid, however!
Recently, I saw that Al Judy had posted some photos of his adorable dog named Maya on his Facebook page. Maya (nicknamed Doodle Bug) is a seven-year old Standard Jack Russell terrier who came to the Judy household three years ago when a family friend had become too old and infirm to care for her and sought Al’s help . Judy and his family happily obliged and now Al calls Maya a gift. Al Judy’s entire family seems to have gone to the dogs, too, just as Judy had hoped all Americans would.
It warms my heart to see this generational progression of a dog-loving family. I know that somewhere in that “Dogdom in the Sky” Will Judy must be smiling down! Al’s mom, who lives in Will Judy’s hometown, has agreed to talk with me, and of course I will share with my good friends here on the NDW Blog. Always learning…the story continues.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad “Jackie Boy” aka Coach Begin, my husband Rich, a father and father-figure to many, and all those father-like “stand-ins” who guide their dogs and humans throughout the course of life.