2008-11-19 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Afghan Affair in Montauk
by Joanne Anderson

Certain dog days are heaven made. A gala event, celebrated in Montauk, the end of our Island, was the breed party and benefit to end all parties, held not at Gurneys, but just across the road from the Memory Motel- so memorable, it was "An Afghan Affair to Remember."

Sunday November 9th Afghans and their families from all over were invited to the East End by the Afghan Hound Association of LI (AHALI) for an Afghan Affair-a gathering that would take place at two locations- first at a decorated building for raffles and Anna Stromberg's workshops, later at the lovely ocean front home of our hostess, Sharon Ferraro, to continue with agility fun and lunch. All in all about 30 Afghans plus several Salukis, Giant Schnauzers, Kelpies, a Whippet, PVGB, and my tiny Cavalier mix (who thinks she's an Afghan) participated in the festivities.

The day was planned as both a reunion of Afghans from the Tri State area and a fundraiser for breed rescue. Last summer's seizure of 67 neglected Afghans from the New Mexico hoarder had cost the local and national breed clubs a small fortune, especially for airfare. The dogs attending the Montauk party were an assortment of show champions, adopted rescues, and Charlotte and Isabel, two Afghan fosters waiting to become cherished pets like the rest. (Call the national hotline at 877-AF-RESCU for more information about Afghan Rescue.)

"Welcome Afghan Hounds" "Welcome Afghan Hounds" Guests came from as far away as Connecticut and Pennsylvania. My gang drove out in 2 cars because Edgar Afghan Poe, our silly New Mexico rescue, last seen here as Dracula in the Halloween "Pets", whines even when he anticipates fun and also hogs the back of any vehicle. Without cry baby Edgar, my husband and female Afghan could ride 80+ miles each way in peace. A huge "Welcome Afghan Hounds" banner marked the site of Party- Phase 1 on Montauk's Main Street. The waiting warehouse was completely decorated in Afghansstencils on the walls, window and even on the water bowls. Spare crates were set up so those with multiple Hounds could rotate dogs in.

Afghan Affair Phase 1: While the humans enjoyed breakfast and purchased AHALI gear plus tickets for the Chinese auction and Sharon's generous grooming table and standing dryer prizes, the dogs took part in Anna's classes. Anna, guru goddess of our breed, gave handling and grooming tips, using an amazing, transformed demo dog- Charlotte- the most traumatized of the 7 New Mexico dogs sent to LI last July. Charlotte has been in expert hands- first with veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Ulrike Reinische in Connecticut and now staying with Anna in Westchester. Charlotte, immersed in canine activities and socialization groups has emerged from her shrunken psyche, once almost feral, now a blonde starlet beginning to shine.

"Anna with Charlotte on the A frame" "Anna with Charlotte on the A frame" Next the dogs sat in a circle for a good manners clinic where the pup pupils practiced basic commands, fun tricks and strategies to overcome shyness and fear. Finally bribed with Sharon's overflowing chicken breasts, the Afghans competed informally for goodie baskets stuffed with toys, treats and bully sticks. Jasmine, Ulrike's lure coursing ace, won "Best Trick" with her fancy bow. Edgar got "Crabbiest" because I had to carry him into the same party he soon realized he loved; while my Beauty Queen Halle needed only to bat her lashes to capture "Dreamiest Eyes".

"Jasmine & Edgar taking in the ocean view" "Jasmine & Edgar taking in the ocean view" "We've only just begun" Phase 2: After the contests we drove to Sharon's glorious home for the rest of the Afghan Affair. Her beautifully landscaped property has a full agility course, securely fenced in, overlooking both the Atlantic and Montauk Bay. A masonry step mound, shaped like a Mayan pyramid, allowed a breathtaking water view. The agility course was teeming with equipment, a K-9 Great Adventure, making it hard to determine whether the dog guests or their owners were more anxious to move in permanently.

To begin Louise Wetzel gave an agility demonstration with her Australian Kelpies. Then Anna, Sharon and Louise helped everyone get started. Sharon's never ending supply of liver was a tasty incentive for each reluctant Hound except for Edgar who froze when we tried to get him to go through the tire.

You'd think we were asking him to cliff dive. He preferred to remain the liver-eating wallflower. A few years ago Louise was also Halle's agility instructor at Doggie U. My other remedial student must have absorbed more than she ever let on because Halle did the A-frame, tunnel and dog walk with ease. Together pros and novices, beauties in full coat and sheared rescues took turns playing on the obstacles. Lisa Bryant, the Afghan Club of America Rescue chair brought 3 dogs from Philly including her sweet foster, Isabel, a pup who just had orthopedic surgery. Rather than fix her broken leg, her former owner kept her in a crate in the closet. Isabel had a ball; so did Charlotte who along with Anna's Whippet and other accomplished dogs performed for us while we ate lunch. While overjoyed watching Charlotte show off, my mind kept flashing back to July when she arrived from Santa Fe; a frightened, filthy, cactus seed tangled Afghan, plastered to the back of her carrier and kennel. Her eyes burned with terror. She wouldn't budge; she wouldn't eat if you were looking at her. In merely four months she's traveled far from New Mexico to Montauk; more important, her spirit has progressed much further. This wonderful reunion was truly "An Afghan Affair to Remember". I can't wait for the promised DVD. For Adoption at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller

Pl. Syosset: "Archie", a small Border Terrier mix # 920 is a repeat poster dog for two reasons. He's adorable and sweet; and I've been calling him by the wrong given name. I apologize, Mr. Archie. He would make a terrific pet. Cats: Sushi, Beauty, Dottyt heir owner recently died. Dogs: Samson #900 the Min Pin; Teddy #775- resembles Little Rascals dog.

Pet Photos with Santa to benefit Yorkie Rescue efforts: Sat. Nov. 29 from noon to 4, no appt. necessary, at Doggie U in Bay Shore. $10 donation includes a photo and bonus gift. Call 631-905-7860.

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