‘Bo’ – such an easy name to remember! This is the name given to a certain Portuguese Water Dog which became a member of Obama Family in Washington D.C. The name was chosen by one of the daughters. The excessive interest leading up to the announcement on 17th April was perhaps a little too much but the story certainly captured the attention of the world. Making the choice of the dog to bear the role of ‘first dog’ was a story of twists and turns, a story common to all families when choosing a pet to become a family member, whether it be a dog, cat or snake, etc.
1.Many children plead with their parents to have an animal at home. When this happens the family, especially the parents, weigh up the burden of looking after the animal with the advantages it brings. They put a lot of thought into making the decision.
2.One issue is the prevention of possible harm. In Bo’s case, he was chosen because his breed does not shed hair which avoids the animal causing or triggering allergies.
3.The timing was an issue. According to the press, the Obama Family originally wanted to adopt from a shelter. In the end, however, the dog was a gift from a friend, Senator Edward Kennedy. It took the Obama Family over 3 months to get their dog. Taking such a long time is probably true for most first time owners.
The US President is someone who, at times, has to make important decisions which can determine the fate of the whole nation. As such, people pay a great deal of attention to his every action and word. Having a ‘first dog’ around is very helpful to ease times of extreme tension. Showing the image of the President playing with a dog prior to an important announcement, for example, can even reduce people’s blood pressure several degrees. So it is totally understandable that even a President dedicated to change would not change the presidential tradition of having a first dog around as buddy-in-chief.
The friends of NPO Knots are always grateful to animals and recognize that animals make a huge contribution to human welfare in various ways. Their over-riding wish is that animal welfare can be improved still further. For this purpose, we have sought out several pioneers from around the world, as well as from within Japan, active in the study and development of animal abilities. Our aim is towards learning together and broadcasting our information and message to the world. This has been at the foundation of a number of ‘LIVE LOVE ANIMALS’ symposiums to date (for which this conference marks the 9th anniversary) and now becomes the aim of an International Conference.
This very rich program has been put together thanks to the support and understanding of many people. I trust that all the participants will unite to make this historic meeting, which marks one bold step forward, both lively and highly successful. Together we can deepen the bond between Man and Animals.
Please participate and help make a safer Earth
This conference with its theme addressing animals, their lives and their circumstances, and with the cooperation of specialists from many different disciplines, will make us more acutely aware of our future as families, as societies, as humans and as links to planet Earth.
In 1995, suddenly and unexpectedly, the Kobe Earthquake (known locally as the ‘Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake) struck the area around Kobe. It was a great tragedy but it was also an opportunity for people to recognize the value of animal as well as human lives. People helped or looked out for others in many ways and with various activities. This year of the great earthquake is regarded as the starting year of Japan’s volunteerism.
Today all of us are noticing the onset of global warming. I hope that as many people as possible will become aware of our responsibilities for animals and that animal life supports Earth’s safety.
This conference is open to all and covers a wide variety of themes in various fields. To make it a great success, I hope you will choose programs of special value to your interests, expand your knowledge and make new friends in the process.
I look forward to seeing many of you in the delightful city of Kobe.
We are thinking beyond only pets (companion animals) which we keep in our homes, to also consider display animals in zoos, animals kept by schools, industry animals (supplying us with products), and the wild animals around us in our living environment. This conference is significant because it aims to address and discuss issues that relate to the various relationships between man and animals, and do so comprehensively and directly. These issues are important and we cannot ignore them.
This conference brings together specialists from various fields who have achieved successful results relating to the human-animal-bond in terms of their work, research and activities. Through exposure to so many different but related fields, these experts can influence one another, resulting in a multiplication of their energy and professional exposure.
Some people may feel a degree of human arrogance or incongruity within the term ‘coexistence of man and animals’ itself. However, I would ask those people to realize that, when we are faced with a responsibility that only humanity can bear, then it is not arrogance but ‘kindness with courage’ tempered by modesty.
I am hoping that, at this conference, a great number of people will consider improved ways to exercise our responsibilities over animals, our wonderful partners in co-existence. I am also hoping that by using animals, and by addressing various problems usually only considered from the human point of view, this conference will serve a role in generating broader solutions guided by kindness and consideration.
The tragic year of the Kobe (Great Hanshin-Awaji) Earthquake was also dubbed the ‘first year of the volunteers’. Kobe City and Hyogo Prefecture witnessed a historic first, an experience in which everybody – both the authorities and private forces – joined together for animal rescue activities. As our Hanshin Branch of the Japan Animal Welfare Society was part of the animal rescue head quarters, I myself was also involved. I provided logistical support from Tokyo as well as visiting Kobe on occasion to help looking after animals on site. Ever since the earthquake, NPO Knots has been tirelessly working towards making real a society in which people and animals can live in harmony. It is commendable that Knots is now able to hold an international conference in Kobe to discuss the responsibility of humans over animals. Today, due to the internet and plethora of mass media, we tend to see different information and biases that confuse people and society. It is therefore important, now more than ever before, to have such a conference for holding discussions based on and promoting accurate information. I have decided to offer what I can do to make this conference a success.
One aim of this conference is to disseminate the results, not only nationwide, but all over the world. These results will include many fruitful workshop discussions about our responsibilities over not only our closest animals – cats and dogs – but also industrial and wild animals. They will include discussions about the promotion of animal welfare and the roles of animal specialists. Furthermore, in parallel with the conference, an exhibition by corporations and organizations related to animals will be held. I hope this exhibition will also help expand the network of animal specialists, animal protection organizations, students, general public and business people.
I believe that the holding of this International Conference on Animal Care in Kobe is a highly significant event for our country. In 2007 there was an international meeting in Tokyo that addressed the relationship between humans and animals and this was a first for Asia. On that occasion I felt that the time had at last come for Japan to take a role on the stage of animal bond issues. It is in that role that this conference is being held in Kobe, an event expected to attract a great deal of interest from both within and outside Japan.
Today, people are paying attention to animals, not only those in the pet industry, but also to animals used for the food industry, for display and for scientific research. I hope that through such a conference, more and more people will take an interest in the various kinds of animal that are part of our daily lives. It has been said that the degree of civilization within a nation can be measured by the degree of interest its people have for its animals. I think that I am not alone in wishing that Japan will head more and more in that civilized direction. I am sincerely grateful that the conference has so much support and cooperation from such a variety of different fields, generosity that will help ensure its resounding success.