July Chairman's Report
--A Shared Agenda for Success--
President John F. Kennedy’s address to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, was both an historic and a defining moment for the United States. It was during that speech that he announced a plan to put a man on the moon before the decade was over. A little over a year later, President Kennedy explained further why he believed that was a goal worth pursuing:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
There was just one small problem. There was no plan. But there was something stronger than a plan – a shared agenda for success.
Study the participants in any American Kennel Club event – conformation, companion, or performance – and you’ll witness the shared agenda for success that exists between exhibitors and their dogs. It is a commitment to work together to achieve something that could not be achieved individually. When the judge points or the finish line is reached or the exercise is completed, both dog and handler rejoice in their mutual achievement.
That essential nature of our sport, the shared agenda for success, is something we intuitively apply throughout many of the challenges we face in our lives with our dogs. Sometimes it is to stand up for our rights; sometimes it is to do the right thing.
Today we are faced with potential USDA regulations that will seriously impede, if not eliminate, a large number of Fancy breeders as well as endanger a number of low-number breeds we are trying so hard to preserve. Our efforts to effectively comment on the APHIS proposed regulations by July 16 have taken on a life of their own, with thousands of concerned members of the Fancy submitting their comments. In addition, the AKC petition in support of the numerous comments made by the AKC Government Relations team has recorded more than 50,000 signatures.
The emergence of a shared agenda to accomplish the right thing was never more evident than our response to the needs of the search and rescue dogs working in New York on 9/11. The request for portable x-ray equipment to help the veterinarians working there treating the dogs was met in one day by Dennis Sprung and a team of volunteers in several states assisting in the acquisition and transport of the equipment. There was no formal plan – just a shared agenda to achieve the mandatory goal. A success celebrated through the DOGNY project.
Together over the years, we have accomplished small miracles by simply establishing a goal and working together to make it possible. We have also achieved success with game-changing ideas that altered our course dramatically. In 1994, there was an idea for a new AKC event. It was an idea that a number of our constituents embraced, wanted to see succeed, and committed their time to work to make it happen. From those small, yet enthusiastic beginnings, Agility was born at the AKC. Last year, Agility entries reached one million – making it our fastest growing event and the second largest AKC event in terms of entries.
In each instance, we answered in the affirmative to the Mission Impossible offer of “This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.” In each instance, we worked together to achieve success made possible by common purpose – a shared agenda. In each instance, we stayed the course until we achieved success.
What will we choose to do next? What will be our next game-changing idea that will propel us forward by the end of the decade?
I propose this goal for your consideration: Increase the number of dogs which annually participate in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program to ten times what it is today – from more than 50,000 to 500,000.
The benefits of accomplishing that would be enormous. AKC’s CGC program attracts the general public, particularly young people and parents; brings new people and new revenue to our training clubs and events; serves as a bridge to companion, performance, and conformation events; strengthens our story in the legislative arena; amplifies the ability to insure homes when “redlined” breeds are present; significantly enhances the public’s image of the AKC; and dramatically expands our base.
Currently 43 states and the U.S. Senate have issued proclamations in support of AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. An additional goal would be to have all 50 states support the program.
Training a dog is at the core of everything we do - from conformation to coursing, from heeling to herding to hunting - nobody knows how to do it better than we do. We can help make America’s dogs be better members of their families and society. We can help make America’s dog owners be more responsible owners. We can help make America think differently about our role in their lives.
We can do it, if we choose to do it.
As always, your comments are welcome – email@example.com.
Comment & Discuss
Enthusiastically agree? Respectfully beg to differ? Have your say here.