2010-06-02 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Babylon, home of the clubhouse and kennels belonging to West­minster Kennel Club (WKC) from 1880 to 1904, was linked with “pooch prestige” from the get-go. Although Madison Square Garden consistently hosted the yearly dog show, the marketing approach, capitaliz­ing on the success of Westminster, has al­ways been pure “Madison Avenue.” Early adver­tisements and testimonials promoting WKC cham­pions or canine products often included “Babylon” in their endorsements.

Sensation, the Pointer who symbolized Westminster during his lifetime, lived up to his name even after his death. He was bur­ied under the flagpole in front of the Babylon clubhouse in June 1887. Starting with the first show in 1877, Westminster published an annual show catalogue with an im­age of Sensation on most every cov­er. Inside the first catalogue were ads including one offering Sensa­tion at a $35 stud fee. (Tiffany & Co. had a full page spread because the jewelry company made some of the show trophies.)

By the time the Babylon West­minster kennels opened, breeding had expanded. The photo shown here is an ad in a WKC catalogue from the early 1880s. Sensation and his distinguished ken­nel mate Bang Bang’s stud fee had increased to $50. Tramp, the other male available, was a Sensation son. WKC was also taking orders for planned pups from several females. All of these Pointers lived in Babylon.

Sensation and other Babylon Pointers advertisede in 1880s WKC show catalogue. Sensation and other Babylon Pointers advertisede in 1880s WKC show catalogue. Look at the bottom of the page. The contact person was esteemed dog man, James Mortimer, kennel manager in Babylon 1885-1892, also super­intendent of the show at the Garden for 31 years (up until his death in 1915). Mortimer lived in the 18th C. farmhouse that served as the original Babylon clubhouse. The farmhouse was moved twice and still stands today at 358 Livingston. Westminster presents a yearly trophy in Mortimer’s memory to the best American-bred dog in the show.

Both Sensation and Mortimer were British imports crucial to the success of the young WKC. Mortimer was well versed in all things canine. The sporting journals of the time praised his skill at keeping the 100 to 200 WKC dogs (housed right next to Southards Pond) free of illness. Jacob Pentz writes about his visit to the Babylon WKC ken­nel in the 3/13/1886 “American Field”: “For a long time the club was cursed with that scourge of all large kennels, mange. The disease appears to be entirely eliminated…With so many dogs to look after, the care required to keep them in fine order is not even imagined by the ordinary dog-lover….I can but compliment Mr. Mortimer in the heartiest terms for the way in which he keeps his animals.” Ah, but did Pentz know Mortimer’s mange secret? An article called “Veterinary Formulas” in an 1899 issue of “American Druggist and Pharma­ceutical Record” let the cat out of the bag. Author W. A Dawson of Hempstead (hmmm. Mortimer happened to be managing the Hempstead Farm Kennels at that time) compiled and tested a list of prescriptions of “exceptional merit” which were “better than the general run of remedies”. Among them was the Westminster Kennel Club’s Cure for Mange. Dawson mentions that WKC has its club­house and kennels at Babylon, LI. Here is the cure. However, you may have to contact Moby Dick for one of the ingredients: Whale oil, genuine,1 pint; flowers of sulphur, 1oz.; oil of tar, 2 ozs.; crude pe­troleum, 1oz.

“Shake well, and rub in thoroughly once a day.” Now the caveat: “The whale oil must be the real thing and not the “fish oil” that is sent out by some wholesale dealers as whale oil.” Too bad. Wonder if this magic mixture might do the trick for formerly chained Pit Bulls entering shelters with demodec­tic mange. Nowadays mange and other canine skin conditions can still be alleviated with tar and sul­phur shampoos but most vets skip the harpooning of huge sea mammals.

Long before Cesar Milan was plugging dog merchandise, in the April 1913 “Dog Fancier” mag­azine Babylon’s famous dog men chimed in on the virtues of Dr. Cecil French’s Vermicide Capsules (which happen to be worming pills). From August Belmont, president of the American Kennel Club. “Please ship to my address at Babylon, LI, New York, one kennel size box of Vermicide Capsules.” From James Mortimer, the popular Superintendent of the great Westminster Kennel Club Shows at Madison Square Gar­den,

and all round Judge at many shows on the AKC Circuit, has pronounced the following terse opinion: “Vermicide Capsules need no recommendation from me.” In contrast, Miss Marga­ret

Brigham, of North Grafton Kennels was a bit more graphic in her praise. She bought Ver­micide Capsules for her Scot­tish Terriers as a Christmas present, and states: “judging by one trial the murder commit­ted was appalling…It was not a happy new year for the worm family but it certainly was for the Grafton Scotties.” How’s that for a testimonial?

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Lazarus” #93335 is a mystery. Good Samaritans found this senior purebred Golden Retriever in terrible dis­tress, lying outside a pet warehouse by the shelter. He appeared to be near death so the shelter rushed him to the vet. What a pleasant surprise to see La­zarus alive the next day parading around the yard after his bath. He was covered in grease, is arthritic with large elbow callouses, but is an absolute doll who enjoys brushing and ear cleaning. This female Keeshond/Border Collie mix #93309, also a stray, appears to be looking for someone.

Male: Dane mix Cage 14; “Bradley” Pit mix; “Tigger” a brindle gentleman Cage 16; white Chi­huahua.

Female: “Violet” Collie mix found in Babylon Village; “Jinni” carries her bowl Cage 48; “Patrice” Bull Terrier mix Cage 38; “Bella” Pit who wants to sit on your lap Cage 27.

Cats: “Yul” gorgeous Siamese -in the colony; 2 lobby cats named “Mushy”; kittens.

•Last Hope Free Rabies Vaccine Clinic for dogs & cats: Sunday June 6 from 11 to 3 at Cat Center Cen­ter, 581 W. Jericho Tpke. Huntington. Last Hope will have a second free rabies shot clinic at Babylon Town Shelter on Sunday June 27th. See www.last­hopeanimalrescue. org.

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