2015-01-21 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Reader Advisory: Don’t worry. I am not trying to sell you something.

Calendars have limited shelf lives. Each year by the time our Afghan Hound Club of America (AHCA) Rescue calendar is printed, there are only a few weeks before the New Year, so they need “Madison Avenue”- style marketing to sell fast.

I edit the owners’ calendar stories which chronicle rags to riches Afghans. Proceeds benefit the national breed rescue. If we don’t sell out right after the holidays, the poor calendars may go to waste, so the push is on. First a little background about the AHCA Rescue calendar:

Top Guns” promote the 2015 Afghan Hound Club of America Rescue calendar Top Guns” promote the 2015 Afghan Hound Club of America Rescue calendar Everyone has a favorite breed. I was hooked around age five when we visited a family with a majestic, blonde Afghan Hound lounging in the kitchen. Over the last 35 years we have owned six of these beauties, often dubbed the “King of Dogs,” so working on the calendar profiles is a labor of love.

Our national breed club publishes a calendar to raise money for rescue efforts throughout the US. Owners compete for a spot as a pin-up or sidebar dog on each month, plus special stories on the inside cover. Sadly, this year my late “Halle” is on the back cover – the Rainbow Bridge page. Last year she was featured inside with a life-size stuffed toy Afghan.

Marilyn Danko of the West Missouri AHCA Rescue is the graphics goddess/photo magician. She and her husband share their farm with horses and a dozen rescued Afghans. Marilyn is extremely qualified. This is the first year she did the calendar as a retired person. She just left her “day” job at Northrop Grumman where she updated coursework and graphics teaching Air Force students to fly B-2s (Stealth Bombers).

I was recruited after tragic circumstances. Randy Byal of Indiana edited the calendar for several years but in 2009 he died suddenly while walking his two beloved Hounds. One Afghan bolted in panic and was killed by a train. The other went to live with Randy’s twin brother. After learning Marilyn was working alone, I offered to help on the 2010 calendar. We’ve been a duo ever since even though we’ve never met in person. My job is to make owner stories flow while trimming them to 250 words so we can squeeze in two per month, not an easy task when some proud pet parents send a thousand words. Ever shrinking drafts get emailed back and forth.

Our customer base is specific, including Afghan Hound owners, rescuers and groupies from around the world. Some give the calendars as gifts. I help promote calendar sales on various Afghan Hound Facebook sites including one in Brazil, so I need gimmicky ideas to appeal to various aficionados. This year we printed 250 that sold out quickly, plus another run of 50 in January. The calendars are grabbed by folks as far away as Australia especially with PayPal as an option. As of today, we’re still hawking a few stragglers.

Below is a sampling of the Madison Avenue calendar campaign. A lot is lost here without seeing all the photos of our magnificent hounds. I tend to exploit my Edgar Afghan Poe because he has a Facebook following as a dazzling domino that emerged from the worst of circumstances.

Dickens approach- Edgar asleep with calendars representing Calendar Past, Present and Future spread out on his blonde tresses.

Sneak previews- Teaser glimpses of “Rooh” the adorable Afghan puppy 2015 cover pup; the “Top Guns” (quartet of rescued siblings) and other pin-up dogs featured in the current calendar.

•Intellectual approach- “Jasmine” in a graduation cap. Jasmine was surrendered to me, and now lives with a good friend in NJ. At age eight, Jasmine got her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title and then became a certified therapy dog. She now loves going to Tail Waggin’ Tutors, a library reading program for kids and visits a lovely 94-year-old shut-in lady. Jasmine is an Afghan angel on earth. She stepped into the roles of her predecessor Jin Jin, an incredible Afghan who succumbed to sudden cancer at only five years old.

•Magical metamorphosis- Photo of traumatized Edgar on the day he arrived in NY as one of 67 Afghans taken from a horrendous New Mexico hoarder house, and then Santa Fe Animal

Control next to a photo of a splendid Edgar now.

•Go global- Edgar’s brother “Shamir” from the New Mexico 67 lives in Switzerland. Their resemblance is uncanny so they reached out with a calendar plea to the entire Afghan Hound world. Then to cement their parallel appeal, there is a post of “Shamir” modeling a Porsche ad in Europe alongside Edgar by my Corvette which had previously been used to promote the LI Vette Show (a generous benefit for Last Hope).

•Poe Plug about a dwindling supply- “Soon the supply of 2015 AHCA Rescue calendars will be NEVERMORE,” quoth Edgar Afghan Poe (who skips the Raven middleman).

•Last ditch Christmas tree comparison- Equating the orphan, leftover calendars to the pathetic, unsold Christmas trees that go straight to the landfill without ever having the glorified place of honor they so deserve. Transformed, rescued Afghan pups become works of art just like Christmas trees that are chosen and decorated. As a kid, my mother would point out the discarded, cut trees left in roadside lots that were never cherished in a home and I would start crying. Notice this sad image has etched its permanent mark on me.

Again, I am not trying to sell you anything but if you really must own one before the AHCA rescue calendars are NEVERMORE, log into your PayPal, and send $15 ($5 additional for international shipping) to helpafs@verizon.net. Edgar and his Afghan kinfolk thank you.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: This adorable puppy and her two sisters #14-709/711, part bumblebee and part Pit, may be ready this weekend dependent on their next vet exam. The trio was abandoned at an apartment complex and has been treated for demodex (non-contagious mange) at the shelter. Meanwhile, “Marvelous Marvin” #5-2 is about three years old, an exquisite cat, sweet and gentle.

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