2017-02-02 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

February is the month for televised sports events with cat and dog contenders. Kitten Bowl IV will be shown on the Hallmark Channel this Sun., Feb. 5 beginning at noon; while the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be marking 141 consecutive years. TV coverage Sun., Feb. 10 and Mon. and Tues., Feb. 12-13 will be on Fox Sports Go or National Geographic WILD depending on the event.

Kitten Bowl IV is up against the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and aired hours before that other big football game on FOX with the expensive commercials. During the Kitten Bowls I, II and III, several teams of kittens rumbled and tumbled with tiny footballs while John Sterling (a baseball announcer) and sportscaster/tennis ace Mary Carillo do the play-by-play commentary. The feline fullbacks tend to climb the goal posts after making touchdowns. The kittens are having so much fun; they tend to ignore the rules.

In 2013 Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) added a Masters Agility Championship the Saturday preceding the conformation (breed) show, but agility finals are not televised until the next day. Last year a Masters Obedience Championship debuted on the Monday during daytime breed judging. Monday and Tuesday have traditionally been reserved for breed judging during the day and Group judging of Best of Breed dogs at night. Four Groups (Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding) are judged on Monday night; three Groups (Working, Terrier, Sporting) plus Best In Show (BIS) on Tuesday night.

A Sloughi is a sighthound developed in N. Africa. A Sloughi is a sighthound developed in N. Africa. Last year’s WKC BIS “CJ,” a German Shorthaired Pointer is competing again. He is one of the top-20 show dogs in the US. In recent years, it’s been rare to see the winner of Westminster continue to compete at that level. Most are retired from campaigning after winning the top award.

However, this was not so during the early part of WKC history. BIS at Westminster was given for the first time in 1907. That year, and for the next two years as well, it went to a female Smooth Fox Terrier named Ch. Warren Remedy. She remains the only dog ever to win three times. Six other dogs have won BIS twice, the most recent being the English Springer Spaniel, Ch. Chinoe’s Adamant James in 1971 and 1972.

What’s new in Kitten Bowl IV? This year new cameras and techniques have been added to catch the kittens in action from more angles. The coaches provided the kitten teams with playful elements like slides, hamster-type balls and sliding tubes to give the kitten players the chance for higher scores and enhanced plays. The gridiron looks like a playground at times.

Feline Football League Commissioner Boomer Esiason will announce the picks of the litter in the 2017 FFL Draft. For our home team the Last Hope Lions the draft pick is “Mitzi” from the “University of Cinncincatty.” The players have trading cards again. Mitzi’s card says her nickname is “The Cat’s Meow.” The Last Hope Lions on the 2017 team tabbies wear purple collars. Other Lions include “Pounce de Leon,” “Catsanova” and “Tony Slo-mo.” This year the Kitten Bowl website www.hallmarkchannel.com/kittenbowl has added a site where viewers can create trading cards for their own cats.

The big news is several of Last Hope Lions from the first team in 2013 are inducted in the Feline Football Hall of Fame. The problem is they’ve been adopted. Filming took place in November when Last Hope brought several older kittens whose markings matched other cats who played in the first Kitten Bowl. Stay tuned for “Meow Madness” April 3 on the Hallmark Channel. The “Final Fur” teams will try their paws at a basketball tournament.

You’re invited to a Tail Gate party: You’re invited if you are a feline football fan. Last Hope is hosting an Open House to celebrate the return of our home team-The Last Hope Lionsto Kitten Bowl IV. Our tiny cat-letes and Hall of Fame inductees will be brought to TVs across the United States, courtesy of the Hallmark Channel. The goal is to promote cat and kitten adoptions throughout our country.

This Sunday from 1-4 p.m., everyone is welcome to visit Last Hope, 3300 Beltagh Ave., Wantagh, to watch a screening of Kitten Bowl IV. There will be raffle baskets, refreshments, face painting and plenty of adoptable cats and kittens too.

What’s new at Westminster in 2017? After many years there will be a new network, announcer and focus on “The Road to Westminster” following top dog contenders from show to show. I will be working in the press room again with a different method of dog data collection for entered dogs and Best of Breed winners.

Three more breeds have been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) making these breeds eligible to enter Westminster and other AKC-sanctioned events. They are:

*American Hairless Terrier (Terrier Group)- Known for intelligence and a high energy level, the American Hairless Terrier was created in 1972 when a puppy in a litter of Rat Terriers was born hairless. Like many Terriers, this breed usually has a high prey drive and can excel at dog sports.

*Sloughi (Hound Group)-Resembling a Greyhound with short, droopy ears, the Sloughi is an intelligent, affectionate sighthound prized for his speed and strong prey drive. The breed originated in North Africa as a companion to the nomadic Berber people.

*Pumi (Herding Group) is a Hungarian herding breed that’s so closely related to the Puli that the breed can sometimes be born in each other’s litters. The energetic Pumi has a combination of wavy and curly hair unlike the Puli’s corded locks.

For Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: A kitten herself, “Melanie” 6-533, an orange purring machine already had a litter. She is now spayed. “Sidney” 17-50 is an adorable male Shepherd mix found by Best Market on Sunrise in W. Babylon.

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