2019-02-14 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Kibbles & News Bits Before Westminster 2019: If you are reading this “Pets”, you probably know which dog won Best In Show at the Garden Tuesday night. But I don’t, because I am typing this last Sunday-Westminster

Eve preceding the 143rd consecutive dog show of shows at Madison Square Garden.

There are pre-show moments you don’t get to see on TV. Here are a few:

•Hotel Lobbies: During Westminster week, NYC goes to the dogs. The Hotel Pennsylvania and New Yorker Hotel, right near MSG, are the main places where show dogs stay. Other hotels accommodate dogs too. Because of my press position, Westminster puts me up at the New Yorker for five nights. I wish I had more time to sit in the lobby and watch the pup parade. Where else do you see a St. Bernard coming through the circular door wearing fancy pajamas to protect his legs, or a huge Dogue de Bordeaux (Turner & Hooch dog) lying by the elevator and blending in with the art deco tiles?

Afghan puppy sisters at AKC Meet the Breeds. Afghan puppy sisters at AKC Meet the Breeds. •Meet & Compete: Saturday is a double event. The sixth annual Masters Agility at Westminster and AKC Meet the Breeds share Piers 92/94. People and pups travel through a chilly canvas-covered tunnel, or people only climb a West Side Story-style staircase to move from pier to pier.

Over 330 dogs participated in agility including some senior veterans. Poppet is a 12+-year-old Bearded Collie from Staten Island. She’s competed in every Westminster Agility, and performed agility demos the first year. She and her late dog dad Billy went to the closing bell at NASDAQ. Her mom and handler Trudy Wisner said: “This year will be her retirement run. In October she was diagnosed with a tumor of the spleen and had emergency surgery to remove it. My surgeon told me we had a very low chance of it not being cancer. Luckily it was not cancer. She has made an incredible recovery and deserves a proper retirement.” Poppet has appeared in ads, TV commercials and movies too.

Gwen models someone else’s Maxwell medallion from Dog Writers Association of America. Gwen models someone else’s Maxwell medallion from Dog Writers Association of America. Most of the 200+ AKC-recognized breeds have a booth at Meet the Breeds. Purebred cats have booths and do feline agility. The dog breeds are organized in alphabetical order. Since the Affenpinscher people never attend, the Afghan Hound booth is first, and a real show stopper.

This year, we had five dogs represented the breed, including two puppies. The Afghan puppies-Pansy & Cinder- hail from NJ, and are sisters from different mothers. In other words, they live together. Pansy, ten months old, looks like a baby version of my Edgar. She is a child star. She appeared on Saturday Night Live several weeks ago in a rap music skit. She loved the adoration from the Meet the Breeds crowd and kept pushing her way through the curtain around the booth so she could meet her fans. Her four-month- old sister Cinder was a crowd pleaser with her monkey whiskers and Afghan puppy charm. She is from the fabulous Montauk litter I got to cuddle at the Puppy Princess party in November. (See “Pets” online Beacon 11/29/18)

Tally (at right) celebrates her 10th birthday with her baby sister Daisy at the Pharaoh Hound booth. Tally (at right) celebrates her 10th birthday with her baby sister Daisy at the Pharaoh Hound booth. Genesis and brother Bowmore are littermates from Florida, in NYC to compete at Westminster Monday. Genesis is a willowy, platinum blonde who posed on the table while schmoozing with everyone. She enjoys rally, agility and is even working with dogs at the Schutzhund Club (which is police K9 bite work). She is the last dog you’d expect to be doing this, so perhaps she will land a role in a canine remake of Charlie’s Angels. Arya and her human mom Diana live in Manhattan. They are an athletic team. Arya is often seen running alongside Diana on a bicycle. They traveled to and from the piers two miles each way. Diana was bundled up against the wind on her razor scooter with Arya on leash trotting beside her. Such a sight to see!

I visited special friends. Tally celebrated her 10th birthday at the Pharaoh Hound booth with her baby sister Daisy (both champions) and her parents- Billy & Bonnie Folz. Hard to believe. It seems like yesterday we were sitting in the stands at the Garden watching breed judging when Bonnie got the phone call saying Tally and her litter had just been born.

I bought a puppy (or puppet) at the piers. You decide which. While we were eating lunch near the vendors, we saw kids mesmerized by a woman cradling a small, moving Old English Sheepdog. I had to have one and there were only two “littermates” left. I named my pup Gwen which is Old English for “white” or “pure.” Back at the Afghan booth, adults and children were asking if they could pet my dog. They didn’t realize what was going on until they touched Gwen awhile.

Gwen spent time in the Westminster press room and attended the DWAA (Dog Writers Association of America) awards dinner. Emi, a real Leonberger, kept eying Gwen from the podium as if to say: “Give me that toy. I’m a good girl.” You can’t fool dogs.

Right now Gwen is sitting on the hotel bed, proud as a peacock, modeling the Maxwell Medallion her goofy owner won in the Newspaper - Behavior or Training category. I don’t have the heart to tell Gwen the medallion is not hers; or, worse, that she didn’t win Westminster Best In Show.

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