2007 2nd Quarter AKC Community Achievement Awards
Three AKC Community Achievement Awards were announced at the June AKC Delegates meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Congratulations to the 2007 second quarter honorees.
Donna and Bernie Thompson
Donna and Bernie Thompson, of Cross Junction, Virginia, have been married for 47 years. They raise English Springer Spaniels under the Pride ’n Joy kennel name. All their dogs are expected to be multitalented: conformation, tracking, obedience, agility, and animal-assisted therapy work.
The Thompsons are retired teachers. Donna is an AKC tracking judge and co-author of a manual on the sport. Bernie, a former track coach, found an ideal pastime in the sport of agility. After 30 years of teaching, the couple bought a 36-acre farm, transformed the farmhouse into a training center, and, in 1989, christened it the Blue Ridge Dog Training Club. The Thompsons soon founded and organized a therapy-dog program and today coordinate several nursing-home visits a year.
Bernie serves as emcee during the visits, running club members and their dogs through various tricks and demonstrations, to the delight of the residents. Donna, a Therapy Dog International evaluator, says, “Many times, we’ve been in situations where someone in a nursing home who hasn’t talked in years will say something to the dogs.”
Their therapy visits have also proved popular with children in schools and institutions.
Recently, the Thompsons have been working to found the Jail Tails program, in which prison inmates, with the help of dog trainers, will train and socialize shelter dogs to increase the dogs’ chances of adoption.
“They continue to give so much to the sport of dogs, the community, and those around them, and they ask for so little in return,” says Blue Ridge Dog Club member Tracy Wagner. “It’s a life and a world truly blessed.”
The Gloucester County Kennel Club
The Gloucester County Kennel Club of southern New Jersey donated 50 oxygen-mask kits specially designed for pets to all ambulance rescue squads in the county. Each kit contains a small, medium, and large mask to accommodate pets of any size in emergency situations.
The donation was the idea of Linda Porch, a director of the club. Representatives of Gloucester County’s fire marshal department accepted the masks on behalf of the Gloucester County Kennel Club last October. To properly showcase the presentation led by club president Bobbie Espey and director Janet Kelly, the ceremony was held in the group ring immediately before the start of group judging. The Philadelphia Inquirer, the region’s largest newspaper, was among the media that hailed the club’s public-spirited donation.
In December, the masks were put to the test when Deptford, N.J., emergency workers responded to a fire at a home with two dogs trapped inside. Flame and smoke engulfed the house, and firefighters had to subdue the homeowner, who was determined to go back in to rescue her pets. The firefighters recovered the dogs and, as was reported in the South Jersey Courier-Post, they “used an oxygen mask designed for dogs to resuscitate one of them.”
Just two months after the presentation ceremony, the donated masks had saved their first life.
Putnam Kennel Club
The Putnam Kennel Club (PKC), of Putnam County New York, is serious about public education in its community of approximately 100,500 residents. In anticipation of National Pet Week in May, the club donated sets of AKC books and videos to each of the county’s public libraries.
“The variety of resources selected will be helpful to children as well as adults or just anyone interested in learning more about owning, training and caring for a dog,” says PKC President Carol Kearney.
Club members presented these resources to Putnam library representatives at the April meeting of county librarians.
PKC members followed that gift with a donation of sets of oxygen masks to each of the county’s fire departments. With the cooperation of Commissioner of Emergency Services Robert McMahon, club members presented 10 sets of masks at the county fire-departments meeting in May. The 10 fire departments serve all residents of Putnam County.
“PKC is proud of its involvement with and contributions to our community,” says Kearney, “We hope to donate something each year that will help pets and their owners.”