Pets, Pets, Pets . .
Wed. 11 AM: I'm at Cipriani Dolci in Grand Central for the Metropolitan Dog Club brunch/satellite broadcast with Uno the winning Westminster Beagle and the Best In Show judge… Uno (aka Champion K-Run's Park Me In First), fresh from his TV morning show circuit, tries to sip my champagne.
Wed. 4 PM: there's a phone message that Jack Daniels, an 11- month-old Beagle, victim of a divorce, has just been turned into Babylon Town Shelter. Jack Daniels has nothing to celebrate.
The night before Numero Uno generated megawatts of excitement from the crowd and the whole country. He is the only Beagle ever, plus the first Hound in 25 years, to win at the Garden. Snoopy-incarnate, has been crowned "America's dog". (I was there in 1983 when the last Hound, Pepsi, an Afghan, spitting image of mine, captured the title- as thrilling to me as watching Bobby Thompson hit that immortal homerun.)
At the brunch Best In Show judge, Dr. J. Donald Jones, retired psychologist at Emory University, proclaims that Uno is "the most nearly perfect dog he's ever seen." He praises Uno's smooth, easy locomotion; properly built shoulder; brush tail; and face that will "melt you right down". He says Uno presented himself as "a merry little dog", especially on the last go around, exactly as described in the breed standard. To compare he tells me about Miss Dallas one of his own Beagles, a bitch who chose not to be a show dog. She'd shine when romping on his farm but wilt in the ring.
Uno is now a national treasure, yet there is a downside to instant dog fame. Beagles are already #5 on the AKC breed popularity list, but Beagles, like other purebreds, should be an acquired taste. The last thing the breed needs is a rush to purchase Uno look-alikes. Too many will wind up discarded.
If I had a dime for every Beagle I ever featured in the column, plus a dollar for each I've pulled from the pound, I could build a Beagle bunker. They appeal because they are outgoing, midsized, short-coated and absolutely adorable as puppies.
'Tis time for the canine caveat emptor:
Eager Beaglers need to do their hound homework. Beagles shed-big time; much more than any of my Afghans (don't run out and get an Af either.) Since they're pack dogs, some Beagles do not like to be left alone. These hounds may express their dismay by being destructive or howling. Even if you love the Beagle bay, your neighbors might not appreciate their serenade. Beagles are stubborn and can be hard to housebreak. There have even been studies about an innate toileting problem associated with the pack mentality. Accomplished escape artists, Beagles can scale or dig under fences. Once out, that super snozz catches a scent, and your Beagle is going, going, GONE.
My husband's family had a Beagle when I met him. Sweet and chubby, Missy was typical. At that time few owners knew about crates or separation anxiety, so Missy would customize the couch or Venetian blinds if home alone. We anticipated a touching reunion when her best bud returned from Viet Nam. However, let out to greet her Marine, she sniffed the sidewalk and sauntered by in search of a squirrel. So much for a boy and his dog.
Despite this, I signed out Jack Daniels, the Babylon Beagle pup, and delivered him to the Last Hope Dog Center (www.lasthope-animalrescue.org.). It does help that the group's prez is partial to Beagles. Although this sounds contradictory, or perhaps elitist, finding the right home can be as difficult for the most desirable dog at a town shelter as it is for an inconspicuous pooch.
Intake at a municipal shelter is unpredictable you never know what breed will enter, or which prospective adopter will see the dog first. I dub this the "Charles Manson" rule, where proper placements are not about "first come, first served" but rather screening for seasoned, breed-experienced homes. It has taken me a quarter of a century to convince town officials that private and purebred rescue groups are not the enemy, but instead can ensure that a dog/cat finds a forever home and will never reenter the shelter system. We've come so far.
Yet, not far enough. An impulsive, fickle public remains the obstacle. If you want a loving canine companion for 15-plus years, research your choices, invest time in care and training, then commit to making the bond stick. If you want an Uno or a Snoopy, TiVo him or get a stuffed toy.
(Rescue reality: It's not just about the purebreds. On Saturday I also took last week's Beacon/ Record poster pup "Cole" (renamed "Charles") the Newfie mix found in St. Charles Cemetery for Last Hope and helped relay "Port" a neurologically injured Pit puppy to Little Shelter. Both need rescue's TLC.)
•Nassau SPCA Needs More Foster Homes- Many animals still at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (516-677-5784), including 13 tiny dogs-Silky Terriers, Chinese Cresteds, a Chihuahua/Min Pin, about 40 guinea pigs, 2 cats and 2 angora rabbits from the Syosset hoarder seizure desperately need placement in caring homes. The tiny rabbits and guinea pigs, each sporting a different hairdo, are chic and socialized. Because of the ongoing legal proceedings, adoptions cannot be permanent yet. Please call the shelter or contact Nassau SPCA at www.ncspca.com to find out how you can help.
•Also Available at Oyster Bay Town Shelter Miller Pl. Syosset:
•Cats- "Orange Crush" #35- jumbo fellow in the lobby; "Socks"-#1129- gorgeous paintbrush marked tortie.
•Dogs- middle-aged fem. Pug #113; "Gustaf" #59-Swiss Mt. Dog mix; "Nica" #128- black Lab mix- 8 months; Rottie/ Shepherd #117 who gives kisses through the cage.