2016-09-28 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

My dogs are back from the Afghan Hound National Specialty in Rhode Island. Sounds easy, but this is such an accomplishment for my unseasoned travelers. Edgar Afghan Poe participated in the Parade of Rescues. I expected him to be so nervous, instead he was in his glory, quite comfortable among other Afghan Hounds and the people who love them.

Each breed has an annual National Specialty (aka “National”). This is a dog show which reviews a single breed, unlike other dog shows, especially conformation shows, which are generally referred to as “all-breed.” The Afghan National is in a different city each year. It is sponsored by the Afghan Hound Club of America with a regional Afghan club hosting each one. This year the Nutmeg Afghan Club (based in CT) organized the National lasting six days. Agility was in MA while other performance events including lure coursing, obedience, rally and triathlon took place in CT. The conformation show leading up to Best of Breed was in Warwick, Rhode Island. Best of Breed at a National is a prestigious win.


Edgar meets Tundra (wearing boots) at the Afghan Hound National Specialty Edgar meets Tundra (wearing boots) at the Afghan Hound National Specialty It’s now or never: It’s been years since the Afghan National has been on the East coast, and no telling yet when this will happen again. I put off deciding if I would attend because I am not a brave long distance driver, yet this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Time to bite the bullet, and drive on the Taconic. Edgar is almost 10, plus people involved in his rescue from the New Mexico hoarder house would be there, including his aunt- Dr. Ulrike Reinisch, a veterinarian specializing in behavior who fostered him several weeks. One of the 11 rescue parade dogs was his NM sister Rebecca. Jasmine, my Afghan goddaughter and dancer in the “Muttcracker” at the Birmingham Ballet, lives with Rebecca. The rest are kin by way of harsh circumstances. We would get to meet rescued Afghans I talk about all the time. It would be like a family reunion.


Edgar and his foster mom Dr. Ulrike Reinisch at the Afghan Hound Rescue table Edgar and his foster mom Dr. Ulrike Reinisch at the Afghan Hound Rescue table My friend Mary Bloom, staff photographer at Westminster for 27 years and veteran of many dog shows, offered to drive us from her home upstate. We would bring our pup posse- Edgar, Charlotte, my English Toy mix, and Pie, Mary’s Cardigan Welsh Corgi. My dogs never stayed in a hotel before. I had visions of Edgar freaking out in the elevator until Mary said: “Stop thinking bad things will happen. Picture him being relaxed.” This worked; positive imagery was the charm for Edgar. Besides, we had a first-floor room. The only problem was I neglected to radiate positive vibes to little Charlotte.


The 2016 Parade of Rescues at the National The 2016 Parade of Rescues at the National Tiny fugitive: Charlotte is also saved from a hoarder house. She is very attached to her “peeps,” and not used to being in strange places. The first night we opened the door to the room but Charlotte didn’t see me. Although 13, she dashed out of the room and past the “No Dogs in the Lobby” sign, until I called her, and she came speeding back into my arms. She made another escape when Mary came back without me. A lady in the hallway scooped her up.

Soon as I was out of her sight, Charlotte began to stress. Poor Mary. While I was at the art auction and the next night at the awards dinner, Charlotte paced, panted and searched our room two hours before settling down.

Tundra’s titles are deceiving: I finally got to meet Tundra, although I know so much about him. He belongs to my friend Pam Wall, one of the founders of North East Afghan Hound Rescue. She got Tundra three years after a teenager purchased him from a backyard breeder in Maine. Her mom wouldn’t let him in the house, so Tundra spent three years tied to a clothesline. Turning Tundra into a house-worthy hound was quite a challenge. This Houdini Hound could break out of any crate, open cabinets and the fridge and would steal odd items like coleslaw and toilet paper rolls. Last fall Tundra became a dear brother to Riley, a troubled 12-year-old Afghan signed over to me. Pam is Riley’s hospice mom. Tundra taught elderly Riley the Afghan way to play and chase squirrels. Riley is having fun for the first time ever.

Eventually Pam channeled Tundra’s energies into agility, rally and obedience classes and therapy dog visits. He earned high in agility trial and another title in rally at the National last week. This is quite an honor, especially for a rehabbed rescue dog. His name will be etched in the record books.

While Pam was at the art auction, Tundra decided to redecorate their hotel room. Somehow he broke out of his crate through the small door. He chose Pam’s outfit for the awards dinner by pulling certain clothes from closet hangers. He left a water glass teetering on the edge of the bed, pulled poop bags from pockets, stole her wallet and as the ultimate, personal insult- dragged her toothbrush under the bathroom door. Pam videoed the crime scene, laughing during her narration. It is hard to stay angry at Tundra because he has a heart of gold.

Parade of rescues: Since I entered late, Edgar did not have a bio in the catalogue. The 11 rescue Afghans and owner ran around the ring one at a time while an announcer read their story, and then returned to the judge for a medallion and rosette. Pam ran with Tundra, and Pippa her 12- year-old rescued from the streets of Modesto, CA as a puppy. (Riley is too frail to weather the trip.) Annette Smith ran with Jasmine, Rebecca and Noah.

Each rescue saga reads like a soap opera. “Ziggy Stardust” belonged to a violent heroin dealer. They lived in cars and seedy motels. He wound up in a shelter after the man was arrested for attempted murder. Ziggy went into witness protection foster until the man passed away a few months later. Edgar was last to parade. To my surprise, he ran around the ring with a big smile on his face, paused for photos by Martha Powell, national rescue chair, and his personal photographer Mary Bloom. When he got back to the judge, Edgar backed up so he couldn’t drape the medallion around his neck. Now that is the silly, scaredy-cat Edgar I know and love so much.

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