THE 4-LEGGED HEROES OF GROUND ZERO Honoring the Canines of 9/11
If you feel like you’ve hardly seen your kids since the school year started, you’re not alone. Americans are way too busy — from childhood onward, we’re always running hither and thither, packing in as many after-school activities, work-related meetings, and social engagements as possible. It’s a problem so pervasive that it has a name: time scarcity. Families feel time scarcity keenly after school starts in September, when children’s schedules explode with engagements. But all hope for close ties isn’t lost; there are ways to stay connected with your spouse and kids, even in an increasingly busy world. Here are some ideas from counselors, teachers, and psychologists who claim to have mastered the art. Rituals make up the backbone of individual families and society at large. Most people wouldn’t dream of abandoning their holiday traditions, so why forgo the smaller rituals that bring families together? Whether it’s eating dinner at the same table each evening, watching a movie together every Thursday night, or going on a monthly getaway, make sure these traditions aren’t canceled. If your family doesn’t have many rituals, a great way to connect is to start some. STAYING CONNECTED Keep Your Family Close in a Busy World REMEMBER YOUR RITUALS
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to clear rubble, offer supplies, and search for survivors. It was a powerful act of resilience in a deeply trying time, and while most of the individuals helping with the disaster stood on two feet, more than 300 canines also answered the call to service. Dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, were brought in to help find and care for survivors in the wake of the destruction. They worked tirelessly alongside rescue crews as they searched through the debris. Search and rescue dogs and their handlers worked 12–16-hour days, searching for survivors and victims. They worked through dangerous conditions: Many dogs burned their paws as they dug through hot rubble, and both handlers and canines inhaled toxic dust. The task was both physically and mentally exhausting for the dogs during their shifts. Some dogs that found deceased victims refused to eat or interact with other animals. Search and rescue dogs became increasingly stressed and depressed the longer they searched without any results, mirroring their handlers. It wasn’t uncommon for handlers to stage mock “findings” of survivors to keep the dogs’ spirits up.
Fortunately, the sacrifices these dogs and their handlers made did not go unnoticed. Many dog owners were inspired to earn their search and
rescue certifications after the events of 9/11, promising to aid in future disasters and hopefully lessen the impact of such catastrophes.
MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT
As cliche as it sounds, when you don’t have much time together, it’s crucial to be present for every minute of it. If you have a rare half hour at home with one of your kids, make a point to spend it in the same room and try to start a conversation. If you squeeze in a romantic dinner with your spouse, turn off your phones before the food comes. Listening to each other without distractions will strengthen your relationship.
After 9/11, various researchers conducted many studies
examining the effect this kind of work has on animals, both physically and mentally. Many of these studies wouldn’t be possible without the AKC Canine Health Foundation, so if you’re
HUG IT OUT
Physical contact is vital for closeness. When you get the chance, hug your kids, hold hands with your spouse, and do physical activities as a family, like hiking, biking, or even playing group sports. It’s been scientifically proven that physical closeness leads to emotional closeness, so if you’re low on time, take advantage of that shortcut!
looking to give back this September, visit them at their website to see how you can help: AKCCHF.org.
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