Pets, Pets, Pets
The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show is like cranberry sauce. It’s become a new Thanksgiving Day tradition. Since 2002, NBC has broadcast a taped telecast of this dog show immediately following the Macy’s Parade at noon. The special program reaches an audience of nearly 20 million viewers.
This year I was thrilled to be behind the scenes as a helper gathering the information sheets for the Best Of Breed (BOB) winners at last Saturday’s benched dog show in Philly. It’s a race against time. Unlike Westminster Kennel Club, which is spread out over two days and aired in its entirety live both February evenings, all the breeds in Philly are judged in one day. Only some of these dogs will be shown on TV on Thanksgiving.
On Saturday we needed 175 sheets by the end of the afternoon. The TV crew tapes the Group and Best In Show judging from 1 to 6 p.m. which will then be edited into the two hours of highlights shown on Thanksgiving. John O’ Hurley of “Seinfeld” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame along with sportscaster Mary Carillo share commentary with expert dog show analyst David Frei.
Don’t fret. No spoiler alert needed. I won’t reveal who won top honors. If you must know, the show results are available online. Just go to www.infodog.com.
BOB sheets provide a quick glance at the dog’s call and pedigree name, record, owner, breeder, handler, hometown plus an interesting anecdote or accomplishment about the dog. Many show dogs are well-versed in performance including field trials, agility, lure coursing, sheep herding and dock diving. Others are therapy or service dogs. Some like to celebrate their triumphs in the ring. The Bernese Mountain Dog sips chardonnay from stemware; “Solo,” the German Shepherd, and his pals play with a red Solo cup while the American Staffordshire enjoys Edy’s Slow Churned vanilla ice cream to keep his trim figure.
What’s in a name? Registered purebred dogs have long “pedigree names” and shorter everyday “call names.” When talking to the proud owners and handlers about their champions, the creativity behind the choice of name rings out. Certain dogs have famous namesakes. One was called “Schweitzer” after the late humanitarian and because his owner is named Al. “Jeter,” the Papillon, was born in 2009 on the night that the Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series. English Toy Spaniels are divided into two varieties by color. One Toy Spaniel winner is “Elvis;” the other “Jesse James.” Bet you can figure out why the Italian Greyhound- Ch. Lakeside Fourig You’re So Vainis called “Carly.”
Other dogs are named for obscure characters such as “Brian,” the 13-inch Beagle named after the talking dog on “The Family Guy,” or “Finn,” the Clumber Spaniel after a male tribute in “The Hunger Games.” For the literary crowd, might “Doctor Gonzo” the Irish Wolfhound be named for the attorney in a Hunter S. Thompson novel? Other call names are pulled right from the pedigree name. “Tinker,” actually Russell Terrier Grand Champion Rivendell’s Tinker Toy, and the Shih tzu “Rip,” whose full name is Champion Marja-Tu Cu Tearing It Up, both hail from Long Island. “Yum Yum,” the Colored Bull Terrier, gets her name from her intent nursing as a puppy, whereas “Mimi,” the Cesky Terrier, who climbs apple trees to reach the birds proclaims: “It’s all about me!”
The Chinook is one of three newly recognized AKC breeds this year. The others are the Rat Terrier and Portuguese Podengo Pequeno (say that three times fast). Chinooks were sled dogs developed in New Hampshire. In the early 1900s, a sled team of Chinooks climbed Mount Washington successfully. “Murphy,” the breed-winning Chinook at the National Dog Show, was so named because “Murphy,” means “sea warrior” in Gaelic, and he belongs to a Navy family.
And the rescue show must go on: A newly arrived dog in need was waiting after my brief Philadelphia excursion. “Mickey,” a purebred sable German Shepherd about two years old, comes from a starvation case of six Shepherds and Beagles that belonged to a Kentucky man now in jail. He is a treasure and will make a Shepherd-savvy person extremely happy. He seems to get along well with small dogs. Mickey is available at the Last Hope Dog Center (516-783-0030) on Beltagh Ave. in Wantagh.
Our handsome hunk was scheduled to arrive in Stamford on a transport Saturday at 8 p.m. Last Hope volunteer Uncle Burt offered to pick Mickey up before going to JFK at midnight to pick up family. One of the transport drivers got a flat in Pennsylvania and, after roadside assistance, dogs had to backtrack and double up with drivers which changed every driver’s itinerary. Making on-thespot changes is an amazing feat in flexibility for all the volunteers involved.
As we were leaving the Philly Expo Center, I learned that Mickey’s ETA in Connecticut was moved up another hour. After panicking, we wondered if we were closer to him in Pennsylvania space and time than his planned Connecticut contingent. But all went well, and Burt still got to the airport on time. Of course, it was a full moon.