2010-11-10 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Skeletons in the Closet and Ghosts of Halloween Just Past: ‘Tis a sad state of affairs when my Afghan Hounds are forced to share an Egyptian costume, especially when the pharaoh crown keeps slipping off their skinny skulls. It is a good thing they didn’t have a party to attend.

Halloween is a great excuse to take silly pet photos. In 2008, my Edgar Afghan Poe turned into Count Dracula while last year both Afghans “chose” a Mexican theme, disguising themselves as Pancho Villa and his Senorita. This time I planned to dress the dogs as a trio of clowns to stage a Pagliacci festival. “Vesti la giubba; here we come!”

My Toy Spaniel, Charlotte, is the spitting image of Emmett Kelly, plus she already has a few clown outfits. Early in October, I picked up a thrift store clown costume that would need sleeve removal to get over Afghan’s hairy legs. I hated to sacrifice the puffy ruffles. When checking the Salvation Army for more circus attire, I spied an adult’s Nefertiti costume hanging on the rack. What a find. Queen Nefertiti was King Tut’s aunt.

Send out the clowns; time to walk like an Egyptian. The imagery fits Afghan heritage. Afghans are an ancient breed. It’s easy to picture their silhouettes alongside the Sphinx in the Sahara. All sighthounds - Greyhounds and Salukis too - trace to the Nile and Mesopotamia at least 5,000 years ago. There is an unproven claim of a papyrus that described Afghans as “monkey-faced hounds,” but it is more likely that these coated Tazis, as the natives call them, evolved in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan. The tribesmen used the speedy hounds to hunt gazelle and snow leopards. The western world didn’t notice Afghan Hounds in Afghanistan until the 19th century.

With the Nefertiti garb instead of clown suits, there would be no group picture. The pharaoh hat was designed for a person’s head. It looked like a sloppy Burger King coronation on the dogs. Also, there was only one jeweled bib (made of cheap, rubbery stuff) and one Cleopatra’s asp sequined headband, so the duo would have to take turns posing. I was striving for the classic gaze into Ghiza shot, but we ran into some obstacles.

Which Afgha n Houn d makes a better Nefertiti? Which Afgha n Houn d makes a better Nefertiti? Alas, the perfect profile eluded us. The coat pattern on show and pet Afghans differs. Once spayed or neutered, the dogs hormone levels are altered, so most Afghans grow more hair. Some pet Afghans re-sprout the monkey whiskers they used to have as puppies, making adults resemble Civil War generals. Many altered Afghans lose any semblance of a natural saddle which is the pattern of short hair stretching from the neck to the tail and down the shoulder blades. A natural saddle displays the topline and helps to give Afghans that exotic profile of gradual pantaloons which is oh-so-ancient Egyptian. Although my guys are as deep-chested and wasp-waisted as any show dogs, they carry more coat which makes them appear heavier in photographs. They also have thicker manes on their necks which hide the faux lapis and scarab necklace.

The wind didn’t cooperate either. It blew at 20 mph on Halloween. Depending on the direction, wind can turn Afghans into supermodels or hairy behemoths. This time, gusts mussed the pyramid poses. We tried shots on the grooming table and on the ground, but none qualify for an Uncovering Fleopatra Spread in National Geographic. You be the judge of which Afghan makes a better Nefertiti. Is it Edgar or his darker sister, the Beauty Queen? All the while, little Charlotte ran around them in her Dracula costume. She had no idea that her vampire outfit was miscast and pass√© - so 2008.

Some great Babylon Shelter news: “Star” the longest resident at Babylon Shelter has found her special family. After spending 18 months at the shelter, this Pit who entered as a stray in March 2008, lactating from a recent litter and covered in demodectic mange, left for her happily ever after. A couple fell in love with “Star” and visited her on a daily basis while they waited for the closing on their new home in Smithtown. Also, “Jinni” the sad-sack Pit/Boxer who carried her bowl in the shelter cage as a security blanket for the last 8 months is now a Last Hope Animal Rescue foster dog. So far, she is making a liar out of us about her bowl. The shelter is seeking more volunteers to exercise the dogs and socialize the cats. Contact volunteer coordinator, Dr. Barbara Pezzanite at barb@liabc.com.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Two tiny dogs seem to be lingering in the Puppy Room. “Sparky”#93651 is a young Puggle who was picked up stray with the white Pit in Cage 17. Sparky likes other dogs and he loves to play with toys. “Wheatley” a sweet, female Chihuahua #93652 was found in Wheatley Heights. There is also a male white Chihuahua.

Female Dogs: adorable yellow Lab/Shepherd pup #93675 about 6 months old; patient Pits-“Lydia,

Asia, Brownie”; the “Billy Goats Gruff” Poodles from last week are available.

Male Dogs: “Blue” #93487-Mr. Congeniality; “Davie” #93520 –mellow brown Pit; “Jake”- a 1 year old Boggle (Boston Terrier/Beagle).

Cats: “Charlotte” #20499 calico in the lobby; “Ms. Oak Beach” young tabby in C-4.

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