Time for a practical, generous sympathy
Coming so soon after the worst terrorist outrage in history my recent trip to the US was tinged with curiosity. The autumn break to see daughter, son-in-law and Pulis is always happily anticipated, but this year it was very much a trip into the unknown. Security at UK airports, always quite good, was even more so. However the idea of flying had put some travellers off, and so the anticipated delays at check-in and security were just not there.
My first reaction on coming into land at Dulles (Washington D.C.'s airport), was great surprise at the sight of the normally crowded airport perimeter Car parks which were practically empty, with the odd single vehicle every 200-300 yards or so. Immigration, never a swift progress was even lengthier so that baggage was piling up awaiting its owners, rather than our usual patient scanning of the carousel. On leaving the airport, it was a real eye-opener to see huge Stars and Stripes flags hanging down the outside of so many buildings, in addition to flying from their normal masts. Practically all vehicles on the roads were displaying some form of loyalty - either by flags flying from radio aerials or some form of a clever bracket affixed to window frames. Paper banners were shown in rear and side windows, whilst magnetic stickers are evident on many vehicles. As we got out into the countryside there were banners and placards strung across bridges and in front gardens, with such wording as "God Bless America" and other patriotic messages. So many stores and supermarkets had collections for Relief organizations and animal welfare.
Referring to the latter, the American Kennel Club responded generously and fast, with donations to two funds of $50,000. The recipients are the Red Cross in the New York, Washington and Pittsburgh areas, whilst the other is for the AKC/CAR Pet Disaster Relief Fund (Companion Animal Recovery). Any AKC employee making a donation will have it matched by them. In addition, Pedigree, Iams and Purina have pledged food supplies for all search and rescue dogs and for any others that have been sadly separated from their owners.
The MBF Show Superintendents are donating a percentage of entry processing fees sent by fax, phone or on-line up to September 21st. This totals $4000. As of October 1st, the AKC/CAR fund stands at $95,849. All injured service dogs are guaranteed not to incur bills for veterinary treatment and the AKC have purchased a mobile X-ray machine for the search and rescue effort which it has donated to the New York Police Department Canine Unit.
As soon as the tragedy was known, calls were obviously directed to the AKC seeking guidance on procedures for shows due to be held only 4 or 5 days later, shows and seminars were left to make their own decisions and from what I have heard and read several opted to cancel in sympathy with general feelings on such a deeply sensitive tragedy. Dog News' Matt Stander put a question to five well-known names asking them whether they felt events should be postponed or cancelled on the weekend in the light of the terrorist attacks, and if so, by whom? All five stated quite firmly that they believed cancellation, and three of the five felt strongly that the AKC should have directed thus.
Attending a couple of shows one week later, there appeared to be some return to routine, but I detected a general feeling of quiet compared to previous visits. Letters published in Dog News replicated the feelings of so many - " I don't think we can call ourselves a sport anymore, because all legitimate sporting events were cancelled out of respect... we all need to look deep inside ourselves to find out what each of us as humans beings holds most dear... " Another concludes, " ... If no one goes, it will be easier to win. How sad. Is a blue ribbon (1st place) that important? Is it so wrong to take a weekend to mourn, to show respect for the dead and reflect upon what is really important? I am sad. I am sad for our Country, and I am sad for our sport"...
These disclosed emotions immediately brought back memories of the UK's reaction to the death of Princess Diana and the more recent air of preparedness when reports of the Queen Mother's health were made known.
So many of us in the UK have friends and relatives across the Atlantic. Many more will have sent stock to the US, or imported from there. Others have had the pleasure to judge at various levels of competition - ranging right through from Regional and National breed Specialties up to the famous Westminster.
During the 1939-45 World War the US responded generously to our needs in the UK, and now there is the opportunity for us to show our sympathy in their predicament. For further information or to make a donation to the AKC fund go to www.AKC.org.