2018-08-30 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Media Medley: Last week requests from annual dog and cat media events all came at the same time. Don’t recall that ever happening before. Below are the requests:

•Clear the Shelters: NBC organized Clear the Shelters in August the last four years. This national event asks shelters to band together to waive or reduce their adoption fees on one designated Saturday to increase adoptions and draw attention to overlooked pets languishing or facing “deadlines” in shelters across the US.

On August 18, this year, 1,200 shelters joined up, resulting in more than 26,000 pets finding new homes that day. As described last week in “Pets,” NBC asks participating rescues to send in their most compelling adoption stories so NBC can select stories to showcase the impact of Clear the Shelters.


Wedding photo of Last Hope’s Mr. Alex Cat Curmudgeon. Alex was cast as Norm cat from “Cheers” on a Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl. Wedding photo of Last Hope’s Mr. Alex Cat Curmudgeon. Alex was cast as Norm cat from “Cheers” on a Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl. Monday morning I got an email from NBC saying the adoption of Last Hope’s Cleo, one of six surviving Huskies on July 4 rescued from a sweltering Selden house where four other Huskies succumbed to heat exhaustion would be posted on Cleartheshelters.com feature “Animal Lovers Across the Country Find ‘the One’ During Clear the Shelters”. Cleo’s story is one of 15 that will remain on the website until Clear the Shelters 2019.

•Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: The show isn’t until February 11-12, 2019 yet preparation begins now. I work with the team that gathers Best of Breed information for the TV broadcast. We won’t know until daytime judging for 200 breeds is over which dog wins each breed.


Faith, rescued from Taiwan in horrible condition. Former Afghan Hound Rescue calendar cover girl and contestant on Hallmark Channel’s “Great American Dog Rescue” show. Faith, rescued from Taiwan in horrible condition. Former Afghan Hound Rescue calendar cover girl and contestant on Hallmark Channel’s “Great American Dog Rescue” show. Three years ago Westminster changed networks. The dog show is now aired live by Fox Sports 1. The method of data collection changed too. A show dog’s call name (such as “Duke”) is not part of an AKC entry form provided by the show superintendent (a private company). Without going into a lot of detail, we spend too much time (often on the phone or Face book) trying to find and confirm call names. Right now we are working on a few ideas to fine tune this process.

•Afghan Hound Club of America Rescue calendar: The calendar is a fundraiser and a way to chronicle Cinderella stories of Afghans rescued around the world. Faith, a former Afghan calendar Cover Girl was saved from deplorable condition in Taiwan. Last February she competed in the couch potato category in Hallmark Channel’s “Great American Rescue Dog Show.” Faith didn’t win but she looked spectacular, as always.

Calendars have a limited shelf-life, so they should be finished and printed months before the start of a new year. Leftover calendars are as sad as Christmas trees that remain on the lot. We seem to be getting done later each year.

Owners who want their Afghans featured in the calendar must submit photos and write a 250-word synopsis of their dog’s background. I edit these stories for clarity and space. The synopsis is the hold-up. Some contributors procrastinate on the task like it’s a term paper. Marilyn Danko, our graphics guru in Missouri, and I began the 2019 calendar earlier in hopes it would be ready to sell at our breed’s national specialty in Colorado next month. (That’s not going to happen but we will be finished sooner.) And the 2019 Cover Boy will be my Edgar Afghan Poe posing by his Borzoi girlfriend’s pool in Alabama.

•AKC Family Dog magazine: We just learned Family Dog will include a feature article about Birmingham Ballet’s annual production of “The Muttcracker” in the Nov. 2018 issue. Elaine Gerwitz, an award-winning dog writer, spoke to me about a possible article the day after the 2017 performance when a troupe of nine Afghans wearing gossamer wings graced the stage during the Angel Dance, and a total of 30 dogs, varied breeds and mixes, were woven into The Nutcracker alongside the human dancers.

The good news meant contacting people like Cindy Free, Birmingham Ballet director, and Martha Powell, Afghan Hound Club of America rescue chair who had the brainstorm eight years ago to “spice up” The Nutcracker by adding a few Afghans. Cindy ran with that idea and created a ballet treasure. We are thrilled about national exposure for our dog lover holiday event in AKC Family Dog.

•Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl 2019: Kitten Bowl VI will air on the Hallmark Channel in February 2019, same day as that other big game. Presently, our home team— the Last Hope Lions—is 0-5. We expect them to remain underdogs when up against the mighty North Shore Animal League America football felines. That’s fine.

Kitten Bowl is more than fuzzy entertainment. According to the ASPCA, 3.2 million cats enter U.S. shelters each year; only 50% are adopted. Hallmark Channel encourages viewers to adopt from local shelters with the feline fullback antics and heartwarming adoption stories. Last Hope supplies some of these stories.

Last year, Dusty, a Last Hope kitten who had both eyes removed due to severe infection, was invited to the NYC filming so host Beth Stern could sing his praises. Dusty and his guide-cat sister Cecelia were amazing during an hour session before the camera. Dusty was adopted by a L.I. family because the young daughter asked for a special needs kitten rather than a birthday party. Cecilia was adopted by a Queens woman, daughter of the studio owner where filming took place because she was so impressed with Cecelia on the set.

This year the focus will be on adopting adult cats. Last Hope has three cat celebrities. Gino, rescued from an eviction, is more than a best friend to toddler Mikey, born last year as a one-pound preemie. This summer Gino alerted Mikey’s Mom when her son was having a febrile seizure. Mikey had another seizure in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

Kitten Bowl VI will also feature the tender bond between the late Kelsey, a 20-yearold calico and our kitten Zoey who was an alleged stabbing victim of a child, plus an update on Alexander, an ornery tabby, abandoned in a diaper box years ago.

Several years ago Alex was supposed to be the Norm cat from “Cheers” critiquing Kitten Bowl but he didn’t cooperate. Instead, Beth Stern held him in her arms while everyone else held their breath. Alex melted. Alex is still at Last Hope. A year ago he married Flower, his female equal. Last Hope held a wedding ceremony for Mr. and Mrs. Alex Cat Curmudgeon. The not-so-happy couple will be featured on Kitten Bowl VI.

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Suffolk County Shelter Locator and Storm Surge Zone Mapping Tool
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