2010-02-24 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Westminster is a celebration of purebred dogs, actually every dog. Even though there is only one Best In Show (BIS), this year Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot, better known as Sadie the Scotty, each of the more than 2,500 dogs participating is already a champion. The canine contenders are all winners; as are the millions of couch potato pets lounging alongside their humans to watch the show on USA Network. For 134 years, Westminster has spotlighted the world’s love affair with dogs.

I can’t help but notice that the image of Sensation, Westminster’s emblematic Pointer, is everywhere: atop each catalogue, on Madison Square Garden’s ceiling TV monitors, even embossed on the brass posts that hold the ropes defining the show rings. Alas, after three years of sleuthing, I remain only about 95 percent certain of the spot in Babylon where the great Pointer was buried in 1887.

Finalist, CJ the Doberman, posing after Westminster 2010. Finalist, CJ the Doberman, posing after Westminster 2010. Yet, I am extremely fortunate. Westminster is my “die and go to dog heaven” time of year. I get to mingle with the top dogs and their escorts. I even sit on the Garden floor at the press table next to the chute where the dogs run out to meet millions of fans. After Best In Show, the “puparazzi” goes back to the press room. I was inches from Sadie though my amateur photos are dark and awful.

Sadie has won an American triple - the National Dog Show, the AKC/ Eukanuba and the most prestigious- Westminster Kennel Club. She is the eighth Scottish Terrier to triumph at Westminster. After winning, her handlers panicked when they couldn’t find the whale leather leash passed down through the generations. It belonged to Sadie’s great grandfather Bingo who won BIS at the Garden in 1967. Her breeder told me that fouryear old Sadie would be retiring from the ring to start a family. A rendezvous with a handsome “mail order husband” from Sweden’s Kennel Raglan is planned.

Best in Show Sadie the Scotty-kissing her handler Gabriel Rangel. Best in Show Sadie the Scotty-kissing her handler Gabriel Rangel. There were other magical moments. Anna Stromberg won the Breed with Nacira, an Afghan Hound from Chile. The next evening Nacira flew to Sweden to continue her career. Last year, Anna won the Breed with her Whippet Glory, but actually she is more of an Afghan Hound goddess plus a great friend to our breed rescue. In fact, five years ago Anna rescued my Beauty Queen who bears a striking resemblance to Nacira, so this win was particularly thrilling.

This year after the Whippet Chanel won the Hound Group, the media was reminded of Vivi, the Westminster Whippet lost forever by Delta at JFK in 2006. Chanel is brindle & white like Vivi. They share a grandfather and both hail from southern California. Chanel’s breeder told me that this Whippet came to NYC via a private charter and that her owners would never fly a dog on Delta.

The Metropolitan Dog Club hosted a dinner at the Affinia on Monday evening. I had the privilege of sitting with the Bishops who own Rufus, the colored Bull Terrier who won BIS at Westminster in 2006. During the weekend Rufus came to the same hotel along with Uno, Stump and JR, three more Westminster BIS emeriti for a benefit to support Angel on a Leash, Westminster’s pet therapy program that visits gravely ill children at Columbia Presbyterian, Sloan and other hospitals. I considered it an honor to send my tenderloin doggy bag to Rufus. I wasn’t going home; still please don’t tell my dogs. They will never forgive me.

The minute the show is over, the newly crowned canine’s name becomes a household word. Sadie appeared on the morning shows, held another press conference at the Empire State Building and rang the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange Thursday. Sadly, the six remaining finalists are quickly forgotten.

Marty van Duyne, a photo journalist whose pictures are a zillion times better than mine, and I were leaving the Garden Tuesday around midnight after Sadie left for one of her many all night parties. I spied a familiar face in a polka dotted coat venturing onto Seventh Avenue. There was no “puparazzi” or flash bulbs going off in her face. She was just going home to North Carolina. She didn’t know about the hoopla nearby or that she was about to be retired and have pups too.

It was CJ (short for “Calamity Jane”) the fabulous Doberman also known as Ch Allure Blazing Star Alsaton, first to strut her stuff during in Best In Show. She was my pick for most deserving; her romp was disturbed by the PETA intruders. (Don’t get me started about PETA; save that for another day.)

I asked if we could take a photo of CJ. Her owners and handler were quite pleased. As the quintessential example of good sportsmanship, CJ stacked herself and posed right there on the sidewalk. You can take the champion out of the ring; but you can never take

the champion out of the

dog. CJ, this photo salutes you and the other 2,500 wonderful Westminster dogs. Not a one came from a pet store.

For Adoption at Town of Oyster Bay Shelter (677- 5784) Miller Place Syosset: The shelter dogs and cats would love to win someone’s heart. Last week’s photos didn’t fit and unfortunately the poster pets are still waiting. “Phoebe” #051 is a loving semi-longhaired tuxedo cat and “Georgie Girl” #009 is a Hound mix pup who will need to continue her training lessons.

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