Independence Defines the Moment

Independence.  It’s what the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, gave to so many, and what service pets provide to those who need them each and every day.  Thank you Mayor Mike, for taking the time to celebrate that fact, in perfect New York style. 

New York City’s 2010 Mayor’s Awards honoring the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was held August 10 as a summer barbecue on the sprawling 11-acre lawn of Gracie Mansion, built in 1799 and home to many mayors including Mayor Mike Bloomberg since 1942.

NYC 2010 Mayor's Awards

As we made our way during rush hour on an MTA bus, we paused to allow a wheelchair bound passenger motor up the special platform.  He was apologetic about delaying other passengers. As the bus driver strapped in his wheelchair, he whispered with assurance, “you are the priority here — don’t you worry.”  Once the bus arrived at Gracie Mansion, he deftly navigated the line to enter the event.

Barbecue at Gracie Mansion

  Brightly colored picnic tables were scattered on the lawn with ample room for the wheelchairs and physically challenged.  High-topped tables featured children’s pottery from the VSA New York City.

The event reminded me of the hard work of my colleagues, Ed and Toni Eames at the Dog Writer’s Association, who traveled the world with their guide dogs and ultimately published a book “Partners in Independence”,   to celebrate the dogs and those whose lives they enhanced.   Ed was a native New Yorker and would have loved the event.

Karen & Her Service Dog Jessa

The hot, humid August evening was also not about to deter Karen Eisenstadt and her service lab Jessa.  We met Karen at one of the picnic tables while her dog Jessa sat quietly under her feet.  She was blind, she was alone, but strikingly independent.  Jessa was 8-years-old and had come from Guiding Eyes for the Blind.  As the crowd patiently stood in line to get a photo with Mayor Mike, the line was cut off just as Karen’s turn came.  No matter she said, don’t fuss over her, she would just sit with Jessa until the line started again.  Independence did indeed define the moment.

Face It: Learnings from the AVMA Convention

 I traveled from New York to hot and humid Atlanta this past week to the AVMA conference, one of my favorites.  I like to tweet at the conferences I attend, and that was my plan for this one.  My first stop was the American Veterinary Medical Foundation reception at the Atlanta Aquarium.  I had a chance to catch up with American Heartworm Society Past-President Shelly Rubin and many other dignitaries.  Shelly asked me about among other things and commented he didn’t tweet but he did use facebook.  Hmmm.

Monday was a packed day with client, new business and editor meetings.   I attended “AVMA Live,” an open forum with AVMA leadership where a host of issues were discussed.  A senior veterinarian asked a younger veterinarian about  her use of list servs.  Her response, “Way too 2005 for me!  I like Facebook because it is all right there for me.”   A facebooker again!

The AVMA President’s Installation Luncheon on Tuesday was sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition.  Dr. Dan Aja of Hill’s opened the lunch with a thanks to his mentor, Dr. Larry Dee and encouraged mentorship and volunteerism.   After a dias of award presentations  including the 2010 Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Mark Freeman of Ross University,  Dr. Larry Kornegay was sworn in as the 2010-2011 AVMA President.  Also a big congratulations to J.B. Hancock, AVMA director of communications, a recipient of the AVMA  President’ Award.   I had the great pleasure to sit with several AVMA leaders again including Dr. Larry Dee and his wife. 

Shortly after the lunch, I got a notice that Hill’s Pet Nutrition has launched their official Facebook page.  When asked by a colleague what I gathered from the conference, the sure signed embrace of Facebook from leadership to young veterinarians to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, an icon of the profession, had to be tops on my list.   A pleasant and welcome surprise.  They may not be tweeting quite as much, but Facebook fans are surely welcome!