“Dreams Come True” at the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade. They really, really do.
I’m sitting here, with tears in my eyes, in awe of the sight before me in the staging warehouses of Fiesta Parade Floats as K9s4COPs comes to life in floral splendor. The K9s4COPs float honors those who work toward building safer communities—the gallant K9s and the men and women with whom they serve.
With my personal protection dog and constant companion Johnny Cash at my side, I’m watching with pride as he comes to life in meticulous detail. Lifelike fur made from seeds and grasses painstakingly placed in a 22-foot molded form—it’s somewhat surreal to look from the dog at my side to one coming to life before my eyes.
My dream is coming to life, and I’m overjoyed. And, it’s amazing to think that this is all born from tragedy three years ago….
Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Ted Dahlin will be riding with us on the float with K9 Daisy, but the officer he credits with saving his life—K9 Blek will be with us only in spirit.
Killed in action while chasing a robbery suspect in late December 2010, it was K9 Blek’s heroism and tragic loss that has brought us here today, to this moment. Come the morn of January 1, the world will learn of his gallant sacrifice and how many lives he has saved since his death.
K9 Blek’s death and Ted’s loss haunted me. A consummate animal lover, I knew and understood the dog and human bond. I knew I couldn’t repair the hole left by K9 Blek in Ted’s life, but I could make his memory worth something and make sure more K9s were available to keep our law enforcement officers and our communities safe.
Trained K9s don’t come cheap, ranging between $10,000 and $15,000. Through the generous donations, K9s4COPs has placed than 60 dogs to law enforcement agencies and school districts. When you consider that just one dog alone confiscated more than $6 million in drugs last year, imagine that times 60! They have a tremendous impact, from detecting drugs and explosives to protecting our children in schools—and making sure that officers go home to their families at night.
The Tournament of Roses Parade offers us an unprecedented opportunity to share with the world how value, how important K9s are to our communities. The parade offers K9s4COPs more exposure than we ever thought possible with nearly million attendees along the 5.5 mile long route to more than 100 million television viewers worldwide.
Not only is the Tournament of Roses Parade great for sharing our mission, it’s just plain old fashioned fun. It’s been a treasure to share this experience with my husband John and daughter Sinclair as well as my dedicated K9s4COPs team—P+R Productions President Jenna Jackson and her husband K9s4COPs board member Brendan Gilbert, K9s4COPs Executive Director Liz Lara Carreno and her husband Hector, Deputy Constable Dahlin and his wife Jackie and their children Emily and Cole, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sargent Mike Thomas and his wife Tamara, Mike and Brenda Tuttle, K9s4COPs board member Pam Mahoney and her husband, Tracy, Annie Kahn, board member Mark Spillard, my dear mother Jo-Jo Hoss, photographer Josh Welch, Jaz and Jason Stanze with Houston K9 Academy, K9s4COPs Operations Manager Melanie Orth and her husband Brady Boyd, the talented P+R Productions Team of Suzy and Anthony Jackson, Michael Spicer, Adrian Garcia, Matt Godwin, Chris Bell, Pierre Cardenas and Lauryn Sanford.
Our mornings start very early—at 4 .a.m.—in the last minute rush to finish the floats. The entire float is made entirely of flowers or plant material, and to survive through New Year’s Day, everything comes together at the last possible minute. Employees and volunteers, like the local Girl Scout troop, have worked seemingly around the clock to bring the float to life.
The day after Christmas we watched Johnny Cash’s alter ego get a base coat of Lentil seeds, onion seeds, toasted sesame seeds, Kelp and seaweed glued to the mold. By Friday evening, he had lifelike fur made of grasses.
We are surrounded by all manner of flowers—and magicians. There’s no other way to describe how these floats come to life. It’s magic. The time and detail is truly a labor of love.
It’s the fruition of Dahlin’s desire to make sure that he would make things right after Blek’s death. It’s the fruition of my dream to help him make that possible, and make our communities safer for others.
It’s dreams coming true before the world.