Wedding gowns and formal wear took a backseat this summer for Vera Wang, who volunteered to design a fabulous fiberglass German shepherd for the AKC’s newest project, DOGNYsm – America’s Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs, taking place in New York City. Like the Charlie Browns in St. Paul, Minnesota commemorating Charles Schultz, and the Donkeys and Elephants in Washington DC artistically underscoring American democracy, the canine casts will be placed in public spaces to invite us to remember the courageous dogs who assisted rescue and recovery efforts on 9/11 and thereafter.
Inspired by the heroic hounds, Dennis Sprung of the American Kennel Club conceived this tribute designed to provide financial resources for professional and volunteer canine search and rescue organizations throughout the U.S. David Frei of the AKC explained, “There were people that jumped in their cars with their dogs and drove cross-country just to help out. We want to make sure they have funding and aid.” What better way to pay homage to a group of dogs and individuals whose important work often goes unrecognized but through the medium of art?
The individually painted, life-sized German shepherd sculptures all reflect patriotism, as interpreted by the various artists participating in the project. A traditional Yankee uniform adorns one dog, sure to be a favorite in NY. Other designs include the night sky, a pastel landscape and an American Flag. Among the artists and designers involved are Adrienne Vittadini, Vera Wang, Charles Fazzino, Cindy Lass, Naomi Leff and Robert Braun. Visitors to New York City will see the grand dogs for three months beginning in August. Following their exhibition, a celebrity auction will be held at Sotheby’s in December to raise additional funds in further support of canine rescue organizations.
DOGNYsm will also benefit the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Support and Relief Fund. This fund was originally created to assist in the September 11th rescue efforts. It remains active to raise money that will provide resources, support funds, and other assistance to dogs and handlers participating in rescue and recovery, veterinary units providing support to the canine rescue teams and not-for-profit animal shelters that care for orphaned or displaced animals. Most importantly, the DOGNYsm project creates public awareness for the valuable role these canines and their handlers play in times of crisis.
To find out more about DOGNYsm – A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs visit. www.akc.org.
– Kyana Gordon