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A Monumental Achievement

[caption id="attachment_7869" align="alignleft" width="143" caption="The soldier in the Military Working Dog Teams monument required 17 molds."][/caption] The nation's first-ever National Monument to Military Working Dog Teams is progressing along nicely, thanks to donations by Petco customers, Petco, the Petco Foundation and Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods. The  monument represents the first time in the history of the United States military that an animal, a dog, has been elevated to national monument status by U.S. Congressional law. It is being funded entirely by private donations and grants. For American  sculptor Paula Slater the monument  has been a long project in the making. The sculpture, which features a  9-foot tall military dog handler and  four dog statues has been a complex task. Cast in bronze, Slater her husband and her team have been buffing and finishing the fine details necessary to perfect the monument to her specifications. [caption id="attachment_7871" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Hundreds of hours in labor were required to manage each sculpture's level of detail."][/caption] The soldier sculpture alone required 17 molds to cast the soldier and his rifle. Each of the dogs required a minimum of seven molds each.  Then, all of the bronze cast pieces were welded together, finished and polished to a high shine.  A patina was applied with a propane blow torch that heated the bronze metal. Then, chemicals were painted and sprayed onto the hot metal to create the warm bronze color. Finally, a hot wax was applied to protect the patina. The journeymen artisans at the Artworks Foundry in Berkeley did an excellent job capturing all of the high detailing and fine finishing that was sculpted into all five national monument sculptures. While the sculptures are now finished, the monument is far from complete. Organizers are still working to raise the nearly $1.5 million needed to complete installation at its future home location at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. To help raise awareness of the monument project, Natural Balance Pet Foods is featuring a floral replica  of the monument in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade. Fans will get a sneak peek of the monument (in flowers) on New Year's morning on the nationally televised broadcast of the Tournament of Roses Parade. As an added treat, the bronze sculptures themselves will be unveiled for the first time for public viewing at the post-parade exhibit. Fans who cannot attend the parade are encouraged to follow Petco (@Petco) and Natural Balance Pet Foods (@NaturalBalance) on Twitter. Both will be tweeting live from the event (hashtag #RosePets) with prizes, surprises, trivia and much more. [caption id="attachment_7873" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Tillman will ride on the flloral replica of the monument, along with Lucca, a retired military working dog,."][/caption] Meanwhile, architects are busy working on the design and construction plans for the grounds at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, where the monument will be installed in September, 2013. [caption id="attachment_7868" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sculptor Paula Slater used up to eight molds each to create the four dogs."][/caption] Help make this installation a reality by purchasing specially marked bags of Natural Balance Jerky Treats dog treats, available exclusively at Petco online or in-store. Proceeds go to fund the monument.