Visually impaired students from the New York Institute for Special Education were guests at Engine 76 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on October 23. There, they were able to experience and enjoy a very special DOGNY sculpture created for the AKC's fundraising project for America's Search and Rescue Dogs.
The colorfully-decorated canine sculpture, "Celebrate Our New York Heroes," was created by professional artist Kristin Doney. Her work on the life-size German shepherd incorporated words of support for police, firefighters and search and rescue dogs in various international languages, representing the various nationalities that make up New York City. The words were also converted into Braille in two languages on the statue, which was sponsored by the Iams Company, a major sponsor of the project.
NYPD Officer Robert Schnelle and his German Shepherd, Atlas, were also on hand to interact with the children. Afterwards, firefighters from Ladder 22 joined in to help the young people tour the firehouse, climb into the trucks and try on the uniforms and fire fighting gear.
The children all received "Help A Hero" plush dog toys from the Hartz Mountain Corporation. The toys are being sold in pet supply stores and other locations with a portion of the proceeds going to the fund.
New York resident Kristin Doney is a writer and illustrator of children's books, including Mayor Rudy Giuliani's "What Will You Be." Giuliani is one of the honorary chairs of the AKC's DOGNY project.