Pets, Pets, Pets
On the road to rescue "Don," the lemon and white Pointer made two symbolic stops. First he sniffed the "Sensation Shrine" by the Babylon tomb of his namesake in Westminster's woods; then within view of the Statue of Liberty, he waited for his Pointer Rescue foster Mom to begin his new life: "Give me your tired, your poor…"; you know the rest…. Since I've spent so much time chasing after the long dead Pointer, discovering Don seemed a bit uncanny. Regular "Pets" readers
know that for almost two years I've been looking for remnants of Westminster (WKC) Kennel Club's clubhouse (1880-1904) and the grave of Sensation, WKC's iconic Pointer near Southards Pond in Babylon. The search has narrowed to a mystery mound that matches specific old maps and aerial shots. In many ways, my Westminster quest has been a "Dogsend" from the heavens; a gift handed to me on a silver platter. What dog lover would expect to have the K-9 King Tut practically buried in her backyard? The hunt combines everything I love- purebred dogs, archaeology, journalism, science. I've been blessed with the help of experts in many fields. I'm enjoying every moment of the pursuit.
However, I also have an instant obligation to certain dogs in town shelters. From first glance, I feel compelled to get them in the right hands. "Don," a stray Pointer, a Sensation replica, the breathing manifestation of the object of my search, peeked out from a run in Oyster Bay Shelter last May. I stopped dead in my tracks. The frightened pup, though greasy and covered with ticks, was the image of the WKC dog show mascot. He was a "lemon and white" Pointer just like Sensation. In 25 years of pounding the pound pavement, I've stumbled upon German Shorthairs, English Pointers too- but never a "lemon and white." Was this Pointer pup a celestial test or another "Dogsend"? Needless to say, I had to help him. I owed it to Sensation - originally "Don" until WKC charter members changed his name to create a sensation- to Westminster; to this goofy pup. He'd been picked up in affluent Brookville, not your typical dog dumping grounds. Despite this, he lacked the refinement of his renowned predecessor and/or his fancy neighborhood. Hyper "Don" barked, marked, and seemed hell bent on finding the shelter cats that he could smell but could not see. Instinctually, he "pointed" toward them. He acted as if he had been a kennel dog with little social interaction. The persistent Pointer could care less about the person who was hell bent on saving him from himself. Love at first sight was not reciprocated.
I feared he'd appeal to novice adopters because he was so handsome. He'd boomerang, so I got permission to take him as a Last Hope Animal Rescue foster; but still worried we wouldn't do right by him. We'd find him a responsible "pet" home, but, most likely, neither unruly Don, nor the new owners, would be happy with the pairing.
The dog had to reach his Pointer potential. His behavior cried out for James Mortimer, WKC's esteemed show superintendent ('til his death in 1915), the man who also managed the 200 dogs in their Babylon kennels. At least six would accompany him each time he shopped in our Village. Realistically, Don needed Sporting Dog people who appreciated why he was put on earth. The shelter was kind enough to let me sign Don out but leave him there while we waited for intervention from Pointer Rescue Organization (PRO), the breed's national network. I sent PRO an inquiry along with my WKC research;
Enter stage left from Ithaca- Nicole Krauss, PRO volunteer. She's Don's "Dogsend", and modern day James Mortimer. Presently Don is in the best of hands. I couldn't have conjured up a better foster Mom. She understands Pointers and gets rescued dogs to grasp what is expected of them. She makes sure Don is not in a situation where he will fail. He's the ninth Pointer to enter her home. Though not the neediest student, Don is remedial. Barking and cat chasing are his worst subjects.
Don is surrounded by his kind. He's learning on a flexi-leash with her two Pointers, an English Setter and a Boxer, all proper females modeling canine etiquette. He bonded to her husband and buddies with her daughter. Don's been exposed to horses while also under the tutelage of Professor Tiger, resident feline. After two weeks of Cats 101, Don can go nose to nose with the Professor; a huge accomplishment for a dog that displayed unrelenting prey drive. Nicole is working on Don's barking self-control. Time in training now will prepare Don for a forever home, one without a boomerang.
Sorry, I jumped ahead in Don's saga. A few weeks ago, Nicole's family planned a mini-vacation around Don's rendezvous. They'd spend a weekend in Manhattan, and we'd meet up at Liberty State Park in New Jersey as they were about to return home upstate. After his neuter, Don had a PJ party at the Last Hope Dog Center making him accessible for his Sunday journey. We detoured to the Westminster property so Don could walk the hallowed Babylon ground where all the famous Pointers once roamed. He posed for a photo shoot at the possible WKC Sensation gravesite. Don was in his glory. Later I wanted more Pointer pictures with the Statue of Liberty in the background, but our timing couldn't have been worse. We met up during a violent thunderstorm. I'd like to think that the thunder was the spirit of Sensation, voicing his approval; and the lightning, Sensation again, refusing to be upstaged by Lady Liberty, a mightier symbol. Poster pets this week at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset represent the seasons. "Summer" #518 is a fantastic longhaired tortoiseshell. This purring machine seemed to enjoy wearing a sundress. "Winter" #555 is a majestic Siberian Husky with the ice blue eyes. Cats: "Priscilla" the princess in the lobby; "Boogie" #398 her longhaired gray sibling. Dogs: "Sammy" #425- black Shep mix; Cattle Dog mix #547; "Spud" #536- yellow Lab mix.