In the News
ARDA® Marches in the 55th Presidential Inaugural Parade
Prepared by Alice J. Stanley
January 31, 2005
In the early morning hours of January 20, 2005, 32 German Shepherd search dogs and 51 ARDAT members boarded two school buses for a historic trip. They would be the first volunteer search dog organization ever invited to march in a Presidential Inaugural Parade.
After going through extensive security screening at the Pentagon, and waiting several hours on the buses, ARDAT was given a police escort to downtown Washington, D.C., where they assembled for the 1.7-mile parade.
Surrounded by New York Police Department bagpipers, high school marching bands, and nervous horses, the dogs calmly waited for their chance to swing into line along Pennsylvania Avenue. At 3:35 p.m. - an hour later than projected - the order was given to begin marching.
As the dogs, in their orange search vests, and the handlers, in orange jackets and white hardhats, marched down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, the reception from the crowds lining the sidewalks was awesome. Cheers and clapping followed them as they proceeded toward the White House and the Presidential Reviewing Stand.
There is no thrill quite like that of turning onto the last stretch of the parade and seeing the huge, specially-constructed Reviewing Stand. President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, who looked absolutely stunning, stood waving and smiling broadly as the dogs and handlers marched past. The announcer read information about ARDAT's long history as they passed the Stand and TV cameras broadcast the moment nationwide.
The performance of the dogs again proved the value of high standards for not only search work, but also obedience and agility. They handled a long, difficult day, narrow school bus aisles and seats, and cheering crowds with the calm courage typical of these amazing dogs.