“Canines with Courage” was an unusual, understated 2013 Rose Parade entry for Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods. Readers of this column may recall the ever-more-spectacular Natural Balance floats featuring doggy athletes performing on boards of every kind.
For the 124th Rose Parade, the company chose instead to remember the dogs who had taken on truly death-defying acts in wars throughout our country’s history. The float, built by Fiesta Parade Floats, brought attention to the Military Working Dogs National Monument that will be erected at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in October of this year. It won the Past Presidents Trophy for “Most Creative Design & Use of Both Floral & Non-Floral Materials.”
Riders included five military working dog handlers with their dogs, including Lucca, who lost a leg while sniffing out landmines, and World War II handler Robert Harr. John Burnam, president, JBMF, Inc. and Honorary Private 1st Class Marine Tillman with his handler Ron Davis also rode the float. Army, Navy, and Marine dogs and handlers flanked the float and Dick and Jimmy Van Patten led the procession in a Humvee.
Examiner spoke with World War II handler Robert Harr and Lucca’s handlers at the float barn.
The replica of the bronze monument was the centerpiece of the float. A soldier with four of the most common military dog breeds—Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and Belgian Malinois—were created using golden clover seeds. The back wall used typical floragraph materials of crushed rice, poppy seeds and onion seeds. At the monument, the reverse of this wall will be an engraved history.
In a tribute to the United States military, Joey Herrick, president of Natural Balance Pet Foods, has donated 400 Rose Parade grandstand tickets to locally assigned military personnel so they could enjoy the parade first-hand. The company also arranged for a very special moment when a serviceman was reunited with his wife and son in front of the press stands.
Natural Balance arranged for a touching reunion for a soldier and his family at the Rose Parade.
An American flag of red and white carnations and blue statice waved from a flagpole at the front, and flags of the five branches of the United States military at the rear were created with materials including coconut chips, blue sinuata statice, gold strawflower petals, red carnation petals and individually installed pepper berries.
More than 35,000 roses graced the float. Floral bowls held thousands of red roses, andanthuriums, white phalaenopsis orchids, Casablanca lilies, euphorbia and viburnum. “Special Blush” pink dendrobium orchids were grown exclusively for Fiesta Parade Floats to simulate floral cherry trees at the rear of the float and more than 5,000 giant oncidium orchids, with accents of yellow button mums, solidago and forsythia, created the floral fireworks.
The Military Working Dogs National Monument was signed into law by Congress and President George W. Bush and amended by President Barack Obama in 2009 to authorize the John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc. to establish and maintain it. Donations may be made at www.jbmf.us.
Read the perspective of a professional dog handler in this Examiner article.
The theme of the 124th Rose Parade and 99th Rose Bowl Game was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” The 125th Rose Parade and 100th Rose Bowl Game will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter.
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