2008-04-30 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

The Metropolitan Dog Club paints such a colorful pooch palette- creating a pet trust, investigating animal cruelty, investing in dog fine art, toasting Uno the Westminster winning Beagle at Grand Central- the speakers' topics span the spectrum of dogdom. Each gathering of the Metropolitan Dog Club is more than a meeting; it's a social event.

"We're a salon of dog thoughts," says Charlotte Reed, president and driving force behind the newly formed Metropolitan Dog Club (MDC) while talking about a group that supports various canine charities. Established as a not-for-profit based in NYC during the summer of '07, the MDC, an active, community cultural/service organization, ventures beyond the traditional purebred dog club. Sharing a common interest in all things canine, the participants, including many men, are show fanciers, sportsmen, trainers, veterinarians, rescue folk, writers, pet industry professionals and lots of enthusiastic dog owners.

A kick-off cocktail party, then a panel discussion about dog ownership and real estate trends generated sponsorship for a puppy that will be raised in Puppies Behind Bars, Inc. a program at 7 NY area prisons that trains inmates to raise service dogs for the disabled and law enforcement. Our Lab pup, aptly named "Metro", is slated to become an explosive detection canine. Puppies like "Metro" also benefit their inmate foster parents who themselves are given a chance to give back to society.

Some of the esteemed speakers are also MDC members. When Dr. Donald F. Smith, dean emeritus of Cornell Univ. School of Veterinary Medicine, spoke about promoting healthy pets in the age of genetic medicine and managed care, presentation proceeds were donated to Morris Animal Foundation, the world's largest nonprofit research foundation dedicated to improving the lives of companion animals as well as wildlife.

During the winter other MDC members-Alan Fausel of Bonhams gallery and the Antique Roadshow gave advice about purchasing dog art and tempted guests to bid on the Duke of Windsor Pug collars (See Beacon "Pets" 1/24/08 online) while David Frei, USA Network's cohost, discussed the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Angel on a Leash, Westminster's pet therapy program. Charlotte Reed also hosted a separate benefit auction for Angel on a Leash attended by many of the Angel therapy dogs, along with a very special English Springer Spaniel- James, the 2007 Westminster Best In Show (BIS) champion. James, now retired from the show ring, is a certified therapy dog spending much of his time with Alzheimer patients.

MDC president, Charlotte Reed, author of the Miss Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette (Adams Media 2007; $12.95) is the Perle Mesta of the dog world. She's the ultimate pet socialite, a dynamo former Wall Street attorney who knows how to get things done. Charlotte devotes much of her time to animal causes. She serves on both the Angel on a Leash and NYS Veterinary Boards, and is forever planning benefits. Presently she is on the Bide- A -Wee, Philadelphia SPCA and Seattle Humane gala committees.

Every detail of a MDC event such as the chocolate Doberman, presented to honor BIS judge Dr. J. Donald Jones, a former Dobie breeder, at the Grand Central BIS Brunch with Uno, is pure canine chic a la Charlotte. (The candy trophy also proves Westminster is not fixed- The dog show is over at 11 PM; no time to whip up a breed specific statue for a BIS brunch the next morning, unless, of course, acclaimed chocolatier Martine stays up all night. Uh, oh, she might do that for Ms. Reed.)

Viewers of reality show Animal Precinct on Animal Planet would recognize Dr. Robert Reisman, of the ASPCA Bergh Hospital, and Officer Joe Pentangelo, assistant director of humane law enforcement. Both described the signs of animal abuse, and emphasized that suspects come from all walks of life. In one heartbreaking case, a Cavalier was beaten to death by his owner- a cardiologist.

Last week Frances Carlisle, a trusts and estate attorney outlined proper financial planning to provide for beloved pets. She stated "there's trouble aplenty with the $12 million that Leona Helmsley willed to her dog Trouble" because her attorney did not follow NYS Pet Trust law. Trouble's exorbitant inheritance has spawned 40 dog napping threats costing $200,000 a year in round the clock security; Helmsley's brother, the trustee, does not want the moneyed Maltese, and Leona's final wish to have the dog's ashes interred in her mausoleum goes against cemetery law.

The young Metropolitan Dog Club (www.metropolitandogclub. org)) has momentum as it strives to become one of the most prestigious (and charitable) dog clubs in the country. Upcoming MDC events include May's discussion of the effects of today's economy on the pet product trade; later a canine fine art exhibit open to NYC elementary school students too, an even bigger Westminster BIS brunch, and hopefully, a dog film festival which will have to begin with the short documentary about Malcolm.

Who's Malcolm, you ask? In 1999 the late actress Sylvia Sidney bequeathed her 14 year old Pug Malcolm to the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. Malcolm had the run of the exclusive old mansion. He even posed as a gondolier at a "Night in Venice". The MDC holds meetings at the National Arts Club, right next to the Pug treasures immortalizing Malcolm's stay. A fitting venue for a dog film festival; a perfect tie-in for the Metropolitan Dog Club.

For Adoption: Shelter dogs are not as fortunate as Trouble or Malcolm. The duo shown here, now at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset, finds themselves unloved and homeless. "Magnolia" #270 a lovely Shepherd mix has stained teeth but a sparkling personality. "Puff" #264, a longhaired tabby, is a stray turned in with his identical brother "Runt" #265.

More Dogs: "Chestnut" #1116- a 4 yr. Retriever/Pit; "Doggie" #126-black Sharpei mix.

Cats: "Buddy" #302 & "Spackle" #207- both feline studies in black & white.

Reminder: Last Hope Pit Bull Predicament Conference at Suffolk Community Brentwood this Sat. 5/3 at 9 AM. See www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org. Please attend.

Readers can write to Joanne Anderson at 65 Deer Park Ave., Babylon NY 11702, or via email at acjnews@rcn.com

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