2012-01-18 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

“Jin Jin,” the Afghan Hound extraordinaire, has gone from rescue to runway. Now she needs your VOTE! She’s not running in a pooch primary or howling the blues on American Idol. Instead, the multi-talented Jin Jin is one of 10 finalists in the New Yorkie Runway Doggie Fashion Show to be held in NYC, as a benefit for Angel On A Leash, Westminster Kennel Club’s therapy dog program. Jin Jin happens to be a fabulous therapy dog. Better yet, Jin Jin is family.

Family Ties: Annette and Rick Smith of Toms River are fostering our latest rescue Afghan Hound Hutch who happens to be madly in love with his new “sister” Jin Jin. She is his Angelina Jolie. Hutch was surrendered to me because his owner suffered serious head trauma after being hit by a car. Silly Hutch wails when Jin Jin leaves the house without him. Although Jin Jin has quite a busy career, she doesn’t forget she was once a rescue herself. Born in Florida, Jin Jin, now three, came to the Smiths at 18 months old after her owners divorced.

her Vote for Jin Jin in NASCAR costume. her Vote for Jin Jin in NASCAR costume. Jin Jin’s other sister Rebecca is kinfolk to my Edgar Afghan Poe. In 2008 both survived the horrors of the New Mexico hoarder harboring 67 Afghans plus 25 parrots. Jin Jin is also a clone of Halle, my female. But there are plenty of reasons to vote for Jin Jin besides beauty and doggy nepotism. She has impeccable canine credentials. First some background on the contest:

The Event: The New Yorkie Runway Doggie Fashion Show will again be held in the New Yorker Hotel on Friday, Feb. 10 during the excitement of NYC Fashion Week and the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

David Frei, the voice of Westminster and force behind Angel On A Leash, will emcee while celebrities, Oscar winner Celeste Holm, her husband opera singer Frank Basile and Schmitty the Weather Dog strut down the catwalk with other pups modeling New Yorkie®fashions. If Jin Jin wins (subliminal message- she better win), not only will she be invited to walk beside them, but her family will be guests at the hotel and the world famous dog show, too.

The fanfare is all for a good cause. Angel On A Leash strives to create the best therapy dog programs in health facilities across the nation. In NYC alone, Angel teams visit Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian, Ronald MacDonald House and Sloan-Kettering. At times, Westminster Best In Show winners like Uno the Beagle or Rufus the Colored Bull Terrier delight patients and their families too.

The Audition: Over 100 dogs answered the casting call last month. Though stunning, Jin Jin is not a show Afghan; she’s a spayed rescue. Jin Jin was chosen as one of the top 10 after she sashayed in a custom-made fuchsia party dress that accentuated her silken locks and wasp waist while Annette displayed a photo of Jin Jin in her NASCAR costume. Recently that photo appeared in color on the cover of their hometown newspaper.

Born to Run: Afghans are running machines, built for speed. Since their hips are more prominent than Greyhounds’, Afghans can turn on a dime. Modern purebreds should perform in the activity for which they were originally bred. Jin Jin does. She is an accomplished agility dog, and she also competes in lure coursing chasing the plastic bottle bunny. She has her first leg toward her senior coursing title.

Triple Duty Therapy Dog: Jin Jin is a Canine Good Citizen and certified as a therapy dog by Therapy Dogs International (TDI). Through Canine Caregivers of Central New Jersey she visits homebound elderly residents, often lifelong dog lovers, who are now too old to care for a pet. Annette says: “One lonely man looks so forward to her visits that he cradles her head in his hands, pulling her toward him, while smiling from ear to ear.” Canine Caregivers is currently partnering with a nursing school in a study to measure how much therapy dog visits combat physical ailments in seniors.

Twice a month Jin Jin goes to libraries for Tail Waggin’ Tutors, a TDI program for young readers that gives kids confidence by providing a warm, fuzzy non-judgmental audience. One first grader suffered injuries similar to Hutch’s former owner. Reading became a struggle for her. Jin Jin places her head in the student’s lap as the child reads aloud. Jin Jin also visits stroke and amputee patients in a rehab facility. On Halloween she paraded down the hall in her wire-frame NASCAR get-up. So proud of herself, she instinctively knew how to work the room.

PR Pup: Because she is such a show stopper, Jin Jin represents Canine Caregivers at many community functions. She’s appeared at a fashion show, health fair, the Blue Claws (their NJ equivalent of the LI Ducks) baseball stadium, and on a retirement village’s local access channel to promote therapy dogs. If Jin Jin wins the New Yorkie

Runway Doggie Fashion Show competition (subliminal message- she better win), the Smiths will gladly trade in her NASCAR and create a yellow NYC taxicab outfit so she can promote

Westminster’s Angel On A Leash.

How to Vote for Jin Jin: Go to www.newyorkierunway.com/vote/ to view the short “Jin Jin” You Tube and then vote further down on the page. (Notice I am not telling you to watch the other nine videos, even though my good friend took another contender out of the Brooklyn Shelter.) You can only vote once per computer so please sing

Jin Jin’s praises to everyone you know. Voting ends on Fri., Feb.

3 at midnight. The pup with the most votes, combined with the judges’ score, will win. Yes, Jin Jin deserves to win because as Annette proudly declares: “Jin Jin truly is an angel on a leash.”

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: One question: Have you voted for Jin Jin yet?

“Delilah” #12-27 a super sweet American Bulldog was a favorite of the staff and volunteers. She has put on pounds since we last saw her, and needs an owner who will dote on her proper care. Poor Barnaby #12- 23 a charcoal Shihtzu was called in as an injured stray. Upon arriving in S. Farmingdale, the shelter discovered that his collar was tangled around a fallen tree limb.

Male: “Tom” in C-2 great tuxedo cat; “Calvin” #94615 yellow Lab mix; Shiba Inu mix up #94607; “Timothy” #94608 injured Lhasa mix puppy.

Female: “Katie” in C-9 dear tabby; “Hope” #94561 Shepherd mix; Boxer/Rottie pup #12-25; Jack Russell #94647.

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