Post image for National Purebred Dog Day’s Toolbox

Of all the things running through my head during last week’s vote to recognize May 1 as National Purebred Dog Day, unbridled joy was not one of them.

Sitting as I was in the inner sanctum of the Colorado State Capitol, I could have been expected to be giddy, if not nervous, as I watched legislators vote on a resolution I’d written to “make official” an idea that had been conceived in a coffee shop eighteen months before. Mostly, however, I was aware of the death grip I had on the Puli in my arms. I had been worried that of all the dogs in attendance at the Capitol to witness the vote, mine would be the one dog inclined to misbehave, and he didn’t disappoint. As dog people, we can sense when our dogs have mayhem on their minds, and there was no doubt in mine that this dog wanted to burst out of my arms, scream up and down the aisles of the House chambers with cords flying in every direction, scatter important legal documents asunder, and eat 60 cookies placed on the desk of each Representative baked for the occasion by Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs member, Laura Pfleghardt. Whatever I was feeling on this day probably ran through the leash in my hand like an electrical current and straight into the pineal gland in this dog’s Puli brain.

Sharp eyes will catch the playing of NPDD's video on the monitor of the computer on the desk nearest to you.

The Colorado House of Representative Chambers

I remember looking at my husband as he took in the grandeur of the Senate chambers. There’s never been a time he didn’t support me or express pride in something I’d done no matter how small it was. This time, however, there was something really grand for him to see.

I remember watching “Emmitt,” a sweet, well-mannered American Staffordshire Terrier “chilling” on the floor of the House chambers in a city where his breed is banned. I thought to myself that if National Purebred Dog Day does nothing else, please let it one day help rid the state of this awful piece of legislation.

Kickstarter video viewers will remember "Marcy," the Field Spaniel at the top, while sweet Emmitt in the foreground proved why BSL are wrong.

Kickstarter video viewers will remember “Marci,” the Field Spaniel at the top, while sweet Am Staff, “Emmitt”in the foreground proved why BSLs are misguided.

And finally, I remember looking at “Marci,” a Field Spaniel, and “Logan,” a Skye Terrier, two breeds listed as vulnerable in the UK. If National Purebred Dog Day does nothing else, I thought to myself, please let it help bring attention to breeds at risk so that we don’t lose any of them in my lifetime.

Karen and her wonderful Skye Terriers who appear in the Kickstarter videos were also on hand.

At the left is Charlie Gann, Legislative Chair for the Scottish Terrier Club of America, and at the right is Karen with Logan and Shadow, her wonderful Skye Terriers from the Kickstarter video

 

When it came to my thoughts about the actual passage of the resolution, however, it was this: National Purebred Dog Day officially recognized – check. Next.

I admit that having the resolution passed by the same state that made shelter animals its state pet in 2013 was very sweet, but its passage was never the end game. I view it as an encouraging first step towards restoring balance to the national conversation about responsible dog ownership. National Purebred Dog Day gives purebred dog owners a public platform on which to celebrate the heritage, diversity and versatility of our different dog breeds. On one day at least, surely we can link arms to beat back the mischaracterization of purebred dog ownership by those who would see our demise. National Purebred Dog Day is another tool.

NPDD had so much support through encouragement,  participation on its Facebook page, and contributions to the Kickstarter campaign to fund its website that reviewing the journey to this point isn’t necessary.  It’s time to share what helped National Purebred Dog Day get recognized in Colorado.

One need not be a “political animal” to ask a state representative or senator to introduce a resolution in one’s home state, and most people aren’t. I can’t deny the advantage, however, of making yourself known to your representatives as a voting constituent:

  • We grouse and fret over legislation that’s destructive to dog owners and breeders, but the fact remains that even bad laws are put in place by a legislative process;
  • More of us need to run for office, become delegates, volunteer for campaigns, write letters and attend caucuses. The co-sponsor of the National Purebred Dog Day resolution in the House, Dianne Primavera, was a former fancier, herself, and I have to think it helped;
  • The connection I made as a state delegate with a person running for office a few years ago turned out to be invaluable. Polly Lawrence lost her election the first year she ran, but two years later, she ran again and won. Occasionally, we would see each other at meetings or assemblies and wave to each other across the room. Last year, Representative Lawrence became the Minority Whip in the House shortly after I had just finished writing the resolution. During an assembly, I leaned forward in my seat to whisper in Rep. Lawrence’s ear. “Would you introduce a resolution recognizing May 1 as National Purebred Dog Day?” I asked. She whispered back, “Sure,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
I'm really proud of the Legislators who co-sponsored the Resolution to recognize National Purebred Dog Day, and especially proud that it crossed party lines.

I’m really proud of the Legislators who co-sponsored the Resolution to recognize National Purebred Dog Day, and especially proud that it crossed party lines.

Following this paragraph is a link to HJR 15-1015 in its final form, the Colorado House Joint Resolution for National Purebred Dog Day May 1. It reads “legislatively” correct because of Phil Guidry, Senior Legal Analysist at the AKC, to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude. He not only encouraged me early on, but also took my resolution and crafted it into a legal document that passed legislative muster without changing the “guts” of what I’d written. I’m sharing the document here if you want to pursue recognition of NPDD in your own state.  http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2015A/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/1AD9E9BF2F7EE97C87257DC4008291CA?Open&file=HJR1015_enr.pdf

I credit Sheila Goffe, the AKC’s Director of Government Affairs, for having secured AKC support for the resolution. She understands what the dog fancy is up against, and saw to it that Colorado legislators got a letter of endorsement signed by AKC President, Dennis Sprung. With this letter, I had an inkling of what it would feel like to be in a bar room fight and know that a 350 lb. lineman has your back. If you want to introduce the resolution in your state,  contact Sheila and Phil because their guidance will be invaluable.

AKC elections coincided with the introduction of the resolution, so I was especially grateful to Sheila for making sure we had AKC representation in person. I suspect Diana Wilson, our Field Rep, wore a Super Woman belt under her suit given the many places she had to be in at once that same morning.

AKC Field Rep, Diana Wilson and Irish Wolfhound owner, Denise Atkinson-Shorey

AKC Field Rep, Diana Wilson and Irish Wolfhound owner, Denise Atkinson-Shorey

The timing of when to introduce a resolution has everything to do with your state. Texas, for example, meets every two years, while legislative bodies in other states meet only during certain months. When the Legislative Director for the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs, Linda Hart, asked if I’d like to have the resolution introduced during the Federation’s annual “Dog Days at the Capitol” event, it seemed like a logical partnering that also turned out to be a fortuitous one. We learned only the day before the resolution was to be introduced that we lacked a needed Senate co-sponsor. It was the Federation’s lobbyist, Charlie Sheffield, who scrambled to help get us one.

On the day I learned that we needed a co-sponsor in the Senate, I learned that lobbyists are umbilically tied to their cell phones, and Federation legislative folks can smile through anything. I have no idea who the pretty lady is at the far right, but she wasn't with us and it was easy for her to smile, SHE didn't need a Senator right that very minute. Just saying.

On the day I learned that we needed a co-sponsor in the Senate, I also learned that lobbyists are umbilically tied to their cell phones, Federation legislative folks can smile through anything, and some people (say, pretty blonde women who bake a mean cookie in the shape of dog bones) can stay calm thorough anything.

I was prepared to “go it alone” when it came to getting this resolution passed, and it can be done if you’re concerned that you are a force of one in your state. If you find that your “merry band” comes from all aspects of dog ownership, I believe that when individuals are dedicated to a common goal, they can accomplishment great things. If resources are available that don’t compromise the effort, however, take them. If your state has a Federation of Dog Clubs, it’s a potential resource, as is your all-breed or training club. I did wonder what I would have done had I been entirely on my own when I learned that I was “short” a co-sponsor, and it was another lobbyist who told me that “freelance” lobbyists can be hired for a short term effort. Having a lobbyist who’s not intimately familiar with your “cause” can be problematic if you don’t coach them accordingly, but if you think you might need one, ask Sheila or Phil how to proceed.

The video below is one you may have already seen if you participated in the Kickstarter campaign, but because I was convinced that the dogs in it “sold” our message, I had the ending redone so that it could be shown to Legislators before they voted (the original video was, after all a fundraiser, and asking elected representatives for money seemed like a really bad idea). During the showing of the video in the House chambers, I could hear people actually say, “Awwww” when seeing the puppies, chuckle at the “Slow-Mo Pulik” admire the Bloodhound’s stoic beauty, and gasp when hearing that Panda Bears outnumber Skye Terriers. I invite you to use this video when you pursue the resolution in your own state, but you’re going to need the file, not a You Tube link. Contact me for more on that.

There is one more video I’ll be making available to you, but it’s still in production. Carri Wilbanks, the same producer who so beautifully put together the Kickstarter video, was invited to witness the vote on the resolution. When I asked if she could bring along a videographer to record the day’s events, she enthusiastically agreed that it would be a great thing to show people in other states. In another week, the video should be posted here.

I finish up with more pictures taken last week, but please, if you want to pursue recognition of National Purebred Dog Day in your own state, I’d like to hear from you. Honoring our purebred dogs is something that I’ve love to see spread across the country. Who will be next?

Holding a wiggly Puli in one hand made it tough to photograph with the other, particularly when the other dogs and owners were lined up against the wall. “Swagger” obliged by stepping out and giving me a profile shot

 

Seeing “National Purebred Dog Day” on the electronic tally board was a “pinch me” moment

Seeing “National Purebred Dog Day” on the electronic tally board was a “pinch me” moment

You cannot buy the kind of "PR" that was gained when a legislator sat on the floor to pet a lovely AmStaff

You can’t buy the kind of “PR” that was gained when this legislator sat on the floor to pet a lovely AmStaff

From left to right: Representative David Balmer, Charlie Sheffield, Director of Government Affairs, and Linda Hart, Legislative Director for the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs

From left to right: Representative Steve Lebsock, Charlie Sheffield, Director of Government Affairs, and Linda Hart, Legislative Director for the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs

How the vote looked when all was said and done

How the vote looked when all was said and done

Not everything important happened at the Capitol. Some dogs stayed home to make sure cookies made for the Legislators were perfect. Photo by Laura Pfleghardt

And finally, not everything important happened at the Capitol. Some dogs stayed home to make sure cookies made for the Legislators were perfect. Photo by Laura Pfleghardt

 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan Dykema March 16, 2015 at 9:16 pm

an amazing piece of work Susi.. THANK YOU now let’s get this passed in every state..so on “May Day” we can dance around the fire hydrant using puli cords as ribbons!

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 12:39 am

Awww, thanks, Jan. It’s possible that Colorado will be the only state to recognize it, but I hope not!

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Pam McClintock March 16, 2015 at 10:03 pm

This is such an outstanding contribution to the world of purebred dogs and to all those who believe in them and defend them. Huge congratulations to Suzy and all who worked so diligently to make this happen. Here in Canda, the new initiative, ‘For The Love of Purebred Dogs’ continues to take hold and spread across our country. Our objective is to promote and protect our purebreds while educating the public about their benefits. Perhaps one day we will link arms across our borders in a further outreach to support purebred dogs across North America.

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 12:38 am

I hope so, Pam. It was one thing I could do, and believe now that anyone could also do. How cool would it be to quite literally link arms with other purbred dog owners across North America and link the two countries? It could happen.

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chienblanc4csi March 17, 2015 at 9:47 am

Wisconsin will join you, Susi, even if I have to do it myself. But I know I won’t . . . 😀

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 11:01 am

Let me know how I can help Wisconsin!!!

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chienblanc4csi March 17, 2015 at 9:48 am

Oh, and BTW, I sent this link to Andrew Brace’s opinion piece on Crufts. They can use this kind of inspiration in the UK.

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Gosh, Thanks for sending it to Brace, Charlotte! I’ll be curious to see if he makes any comment on it….

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Jay Kitchener March 17, 2015 at 11:33 am

You know Maine will be on the short list to do this next, don’t you? Congratulations, Susi. You rock!

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Tell me how I can help, Jay!!

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Dawn-Renée Watters March 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Reading this article put tears in my eyes. It makes me proud to live in Colorado and happy that you live here, Susi. It also gives me hope that all the time I spend at my city’s meetings might someday make a difference.

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Well gosh, Dawn, I’m really pretty tickled that this touched you as it did! And good for you for being part of the process by attending those city meetings. I don’t love politics, but wanting change in some areas trumps my sentiments about that. Becoming part of the system, as they say, is how the 60s Radicals, the Christian Coalition, the Green Party, and others affected change. I can’t help but think if we approach this in a multi-pronged effort (legislation, social media, pop culture, etc) we will prevail in restoring balance.

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Charlee Helms March 17, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Proud to call you friend…….you’re a rockstar, you know that, right?

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Maureen Pogorzelski March 17, 2015 at 7:00 pm

I am so impressed! I think I need to send a link to this to the Regional list of our Parent Club. We need to get people fired up all around the country! Susi, you took the first step that everyone should be watching. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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Susi March 17, 2015 at 8:26 pm

I really appreciate the kind words, Maureen. If you decide to pursue it, please let me know how I can help?

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Jennifer March 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Susi-
I really enjoyed reading this. One thing that came to mind while I was reading was what about all the environmentalists who delay projects for a worm, fish, or bird. Why aren’t the breeds in jeopardy on the Endangered Species List? Yes, I realize that dogs are one species but aren’t each breed a sub-species? As we know you breed a poodle to a ? and you get a Doodle. Have not fully formed the concept yet, but….interesting analogy. Oh, and love your leaping Pulik in the video. Do they always hop like bunnies?

Jennifer in CA

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