Thirty years as a journalist reporting on everything from environmental disasters to women’s rights, have left me a little jaded when it comes to public events. So I guess I can be forgiven for having rather low expectations for the “Dog Adoption and Humane Awards” ceremony being held at the Governor’s mansion on Saturday, November 16, 2013 in Raleigh.
What did I expect? Two radically different events that would unfold simultaneously – one a carefully orchestrated awards ceremony involving formally dressed government types making round sounds, the other a canine free-for-all driven by the infectious joy of the three dozen dogs waiting for adoption.
Oddly enough, all of the above was true: http://bit.ly/1fJ2zNJ. There were indeed meticulously coiffed legislators, reporters and HSUS staff (the organization presenting the awards) gathered around a podium to be photographed and quoted as they accepted awards for their support of HB 930 (a bill that would establish minimum health and safety requirements for commercial dog breeders). There were also plenty of happy go lucky dogs and people playing and falling in love with them. But there the similarities between my imagined event and the reality ended.
What I did not anticipate were the kindness and tears: First Lady Ann McCrory drawing strength from a tiny tan puppy tucked beneath her chin as she spoke with quiet authority about her determination to pass HB 930; the sincere regret in Senator Hunt’s voice as he talked about how difficult it is to find support for a bill that is so clearly “right;” and the tears that choked Representative Brown’s voice as she described the horrific conditions in puppy mills. From the moment the ceremony began it was clear these people not only cared, but were putting their differences aside to work on something that was bigger than politics. As Representative Saine said after the ceremony, while proudly showing me his award, “This is about our humanity, not bipartisan politics.”
But there was more. As the creator of the CritterKin stories and illustrator responsible for the image that adorned the digital press releases and invitations, I was there as an artist/storyteller not a reporter. Instead of recording facts, gathering quotes and trying to remain objective, I allowed myself the luxury of being part of the festivities. I talked to the legislators, sharing pictures of our pets on our iPhones, played tug of war with a tiny black and tan Chihuahua mix, and at one point found myself hugging Governor Pat McCrory. “Are you the artist who did the picture of Ricky Bobby?” he asked.
“Guilty as charged,” I smiled. “His story is also in the CritterKin book I wrote.”
“Well you have to meet my wife,” he said. “She’s a huge Ricky Bobby fan.”
And that’s how the second half of this remarkable day began, in which I was reminded that sometimes what the universe has in mind is infinitely bigger, brighter and more hopeful than anything you can imagine. Stayed tuned…
Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.Read More