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Interview - Susan Bahary & National Service Animals Memorial

Interview - Susan Bahary & National Service Animals Memorial

David Tabar David Tabar
15 minute read

Susan Bahary and the U.S. National Service Animals Memorial Project Mighty Line Minute Episode 23An Interview with Susan Bahary, Sculptor

Greetings everyone and welcome to Mighty Line Minute! We've got a very special guest today. I’m honored to have on the show, Susan Bahary, the well-known and recognized sculptor, an animal sculptor who you may or may not know about, but you're going to learn a lot more today. I'll turn this over to her in just a moment, but I'd say that the first time I met Susan Bahary was at a unique situation in the MetroParks of Cleveland. And Susan, I know you'd recall that day. Why don't you give us a little background about how we met and how you got started and the business that you're in, and what connected you to animals?

Well, it was tremendous to, to meet Bill Wynne. I mean, what a treasure for our country. What an amazing person, what an honor to be able to have created the Smoky bronze for him and the family. And, so that was tremendous. And to be able to unveil it that way, and to be there with family and with Bill was a memory I'll always cherish. 

The weather was beautiful. It was November, 2005 on Veterans Day and it was just so special. And the work that you did for that was amazing. Everyone just was thrilled when they saw the unveiling of the Smoky Memorial. And you should know that in the last few weeks we just did a series on Smoky The War Dog. So people are quite familiar with Smoky at this point.

Well, that's fantastic. And as far as how I got involved, I always loved animals. I grew up with dogs and when I was a teenager, I started showing my Afghan hounds and I raised them and trained them and showed them. Eventually I did some judging and bred many champions, but really it was there that I understood the beautiful connection that we have with our animals. And really, I believed back then, even when I was, you know, 15, 14, that animals and dogs have much more of an understanding and ability than we give them credit for. And I think that's what really kept me going all these years, really believing that. So it took me through the showing of my dogs, understanding the human-animal bond, and then into my sculpture work which is largely focused on that. I do limited edition works, but the monumental work is very much focused on the human-animal bond.

When you began working in the field of art, did you immediately turn to animals and, and the work that you were doing? 

Ah, that's interesting, yes, I did. In fact, my first sculpture, in sixth grade, was of an animal, I remember that. And, I'll never forget it because it was the only thing that that teacher ever encouraged me about. She sort of redeemed herself in that moment, I would say, God bless her soul. I did other sculptures. I did one for a museum that was 25 feet tall in Florida in front of a museum right into college. I was 18. It was a competition, I did a sculpture of a famous Afghan hound that I did limited edition of, that was my first official bronze, and it was very well received. That was very encouraging, but it took a while until I came back to my sculpture in 1989. I did a lot of other things thinking that I needed to have a real job. And how could I make a living being an artist? So I kind of tried different things. 

Wellthose early experiences are wonderful. I had a couple of dogs when I was youn,g and I still think about them, you know, even at this point in time, but you don't always know how your vocation will go. I want to give the viewers arundown of just several of the pieces of work that you've done. So if you don't mind, I'll just read through this.

Always Faithful, a life-sized Doberman Pinscher in bronze as a tribute to 25Marine dogs who served as sentries, messengers, and scouts who explored caves, detected mines and booby traps, and gave their lives liberating Guam in 1944. And it was unveiled at the Pentagon. 

Another one was Faithful Partner, a life-size likeness of a German Shepherd police dog that is located at the UC Davis Veterinary School, and a second casting was made for MGM Warner Brothers  dog movie, Max. It goes on ..

Sully, a life-size bronze commissioned by America's Vet Dogs, who trained Sully for placement at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas, and ..

Soaring Spirit, a beautiful bronze involving a horse, unveiled in 2017 in Queensland, Australia that honors the service and sacrifice of all Australian service animals, as well as their enduring partnership with humans during World War I.

I've been fortunate to see some of these sculptures and, you know, the reaction of people when they see that, it's an emotion that I never anticipated. I see people with tears, people are moved in different directions, but I just wanted to give that quick rundown before we go further and thank you for what you've done, and how you've touched people as well as animals with these sculptures.

Thank you. Well, you know, as you mentioned, the Always Faithful Service Dog was the first in 1994, and that's when I really got to see the heart of those who serve and how much they appreciated the work, how much they really never forgot their animals, and how they really didn't want credit for themselves;maybe for their animals. And that has been something that has moved me through all my works, that I've been very touched by those who serve others,  whether they're animals or, or humans. And that's taken me across. You mentioned many significant pieces, the most recent are The Pledge which I was very honored to do in the Military Women's Memorial, right at the gateway to Arlington Cemetery, which is of a combat soldier, female, and her war dog getting ready to go into battle. It's that last moment before they go into battle together. And also one to a fallen lead dog handler, SEAL Team 6,  John Dongdara,  called Service of Sacrifice. And that can be seen at the U. S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D. C.

Wow. Wow. Now that you're talking about Washington, D. C., it kind of leads me to bring up another project that you're active in, and that's The National Service Animals Memorial. I don't know that many of our viewers know a lot about this, but I know there has been congressional action which has moved this forward. And I'm excited to have the opportunity to ask you, what is going on with the memorial, and how can our viewers be of help to see that this comes to fruition?

Yeah, well, thank you. Yeah, the National Service Animals Memorial honors all the animals that have served and their handlers since the founding of our country, whether they're horses, dogs, mules, carrier pigeons, cats, all of them who have provided for our safety, security, independence, and community. And giving companionship, and that includes therapy, dogs, guide, assistance, animals, war animals, military animals, law enforcement.

And so, we did receive unanimous approval, a bipartisan bill that has given us the ability to build on federal land, which we're very excited about in the nation's capital. The next step for us is to engage a site selection consultant and get a site. Then we go through the Arts Commission to finalize the design. And in a few years, hopefully we'll have a new memorial. First time to really honor these incredible animals and those who serve alongside them. 

People can help by going to our website, www.nationalserviceanimalsmemorial.org they can contact us to see if they want to volunteer in some capacity. And certainly what we need now are funds to build it. It's always the case with these memorials. You get the approvals, but you have to raise them privately, the funds. So, we have all of that available on our website. And, yeah, we would love people to become a part of this. It can bring people together. 

I think that's an important distinction too, you clarified National Service Animals Memorial. It's not just war dogs, it's service animals as well. 

Yes, in the large sense of the word, yes, therapy, and we even have a component for our, shelter animals and the need to treat our animals well. We'll have aphone app on the site with ever-changing stories, information, resources. And on our website, we currently have an education program for parents and teachers or those just interested in wanting to learn more that they can get right off our website.

Well, I think you've done a wonderful job in directing our listeners as to how they can be of help and learn more about this. And I'm excited to be a small part of this, Susan. I hope we can stay in touch and do all that we can on this end in our lovely Cleveland, Ohio realm and beyond. And certainly, in memory of those that we've worked together with we want to continue this effort to help you as well. So, thank you again for being on today. Are there any parting words you'd like to leave us with before we conclude our Mighty Line Minute? 

Well, I just want to say, especially being so close to Memorial Day, that let's please remember all those who have served and sacrificed for us, whether it be the human or the animal. And thanks for having me.

Well, thank you, Susan Bahary , we hope you a have a blessed day. We'll see you again soon. 

Thanks everyone for tuning in today to Mighty Line Minute. We appreciate the time that you spent with us and we're pleased that you got to learn more about animal sculpting and in particular, The National Service Animals Memorial in Washington, DC. We look forward to seeing you again. And in the meantime, take a look at mightylinetape.com to learn more about what they do for safety and operations in the workplace to assure that your employees come home safely every day. Take care. Have a great day!

Susan Bahary

Blog format of the interview with Susan Bahary with Dave Tabar

Hello, Mighty Line Minute listeners! Today, we have a truly special episode featuring the renowned animal sculptor Susan Bahary. Susan Bahary is celebrated for her incredible bronze sculptures that pay tribute to the deep connection between humans and animals.

My first encounter with Susan was during a memorable event at the MetroParks of Cleveland. It was a beautiful November day in 2005, Veterans Day to be exact. We were there for the unveiling of the Smoky Memorial, a bronze sculpture created by Susan Bahary in honor of Bill Wynne and his famous war dog, Smoky. This moment was not only significant for Bill and his family but also left a lasting impression on everyone present.

Susan Bahary has always had a profound love for animals, a passion that has driven her career. Growing up with dogs, she began showing and breeding Afghan hounds as a teenager, developing a deep appreciation for the human-animal bond. This connection ultimately inspired her to focus her artistic talents on creating sculptures that celebrate this unique relationship.

Her journey into the art world began at an early age. Susan Bahary recalls her first sculpture in sixth grade, an animal that earned her the only encouragement she received from her teacher. This moment ignited her passion for sculpting, leading to her first official bronze piece of a famous Afghan hound at just 18 years old. Despite trying other career paths, her love for art and animals eventually drew her back to sculpting in 1989.

Susan's work is characterized by her dedication to capturing the essence of the human-animal bond. Among her notable pieces is "Always Faithful," a life-sized bronze Doberman Pinscher unveiled at the Pentagon. This sculpture pays tribute to 25 Marine dogs who served during World War II, highlighting their bravery and sacrifice. Another significant piece, "Faithful Partner," depicts a German Shepherd police dog and was commissioned by the UC Davis Veterinary School. A second casting of this sculpture appeared in the MGM Warner Brothers’ service dog movie, Max.

One of Susan's recent works includes "Sully," a life-size bronze of the service dog trained by America’s Vet Dogs for President George H. W. Bush. This sculpture is displayed at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas. Another notable piece is "Soaring Spirit," a bronze horse unveiled in 2017 in Queensland, Australia, honoring the service and sacrifice of Australian war animals.

Susan's sculptures evoke powerful emotions in those who see them, often bringing tears to the eyes of viewers. Susan Bahary ‘s ability to capture the spirit and significance of these animals in her art has touched many lives.

Currently, Susan Bahary is working on the National Service Animals Memorial, a project that has received unanimous approval from Congress. This memorial will honor all animals that have served alongside humans since the founding of the United States. It will include a wide range of service animals, from war dogs to therapy animals, recognizing their contributions to our safety and well-being.

The next steps for the memorial include site selection and finalizing the design. Susan Bahary invites everyone to support this project by visiting the National Service Animals Memorial website, where you can volunteer or donate to help bring this important tribute to life.

As we approach Memorial Day, let’s remember and honor all those who have served and sacrificed for us, both human and animal. Thank you, Susan Bahary, for your incredible contributions and for sharing your story with us today.

Thank you to all our listeners for tuning in to Mighty Line Minute. We appreciate your time and interest in learning more about animal sculpting and the National Service Animals Memorial. For more information about workplace safety and operations, visit mightylinetape.com. Take care and have a great day!


FAQ for Susan Bahary

  • Who is Susan Bahary?
    • Susan Bahary is a renowned animal sculptor celebrated for her bronze sculptures that honor the connection between humans and animals.

  • When did Susan Bahary start her sculpting career?
    • Susan began her journey into sculpting in sixth grade and created her first official bronze piece at 18 years old.
  • What inspired Susan Bahary to focus on animal sculptures?
    • Growing up with dogs and showing and breeding Afghan hounds as a teenager inspired her to focus on the human-animal bond in her sculptures.
  • What are some notable works by Susan Bahary?
    • Some of her notable pieces include:
    • "Always Faithful," a life-sized bronze Doberman Pinscher at the Pentagon.
    • "Faithful Partner," a German Shepherd police dog sculpture at UC Davis Veterinary School.
    • "Sully," a life-size bronze of President George H. W. Bush’s service dog at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library.
    • "Soaring Spirit," a bronze horse honoring Australian war animals in Queensland.
  • What significant event did Susan Bahary participate in 2005?
    • In 2005, Susan unveiled the Smoky Memorial, a bronze sculpture honoring Bill Wynne and his war dog, Smoky, at the MetroParks of Cleveland on Veterans Day.
  • What is Susan Bahary's latest project?
    • Susan is currently working on the National Service Animals Memorial, a project approved by Congress to honor all service animals since the founding of the United States.
  • How can people support the National Service Animals Memorial project?
    • People can support the project by visiting the National Service Animals Memorial website to volunteer or donate.
  • What impact do Susan Bahary's sculptures have on viewers?
    • Her sculptures evoke powerful emotions and often bring tears to the eyes of viewers, capturing the spirit and significance of the animals depicted.
  • Where can listeners find more information about workplace safety and operations?
  • What message did Susan Bahary share as Memorial Day approached?
    • She encouraged everyone to remember and honor all those who have served and sacrificed, both human and animal.



Images from - https://nationalserviceanimalsmemorial.org/about-the-artist/


image from - https://baharystudios.com/art/the-pledge

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