2017-09-27 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

People joke: “We have families so they can embarrass us. “Kids fear their parents will embarrass them in front of their peers. Parents dread their kids will embarrass them in public. Most of us consider our pets to be part of the family. Yep, our pets are pros at embarrassing us too.

We see this happen during dog performance competitions. The top agility dog runs through the tunnel in the wrong direction or stops for no reason; a show dog squats in the ring when nature calls. Handlers are more mortified when these mishaps are shown on national TV.

Kid stuff: I did have students whose dogs ate their homework. I’d laugh when mothers wrote explanations on the remains of the assignment. Certain childhood moments are etched in our memory like when I was only four and the Mother Superior yelled at me for talking on line to children’s mass. A few years later we had fussy next door neighbors in Massapequa who never would have owned a pet. One morning around 7 a.m. our puppy Sam got through the fence. My brother and I were desperately trying to catch him on their property, falling over each other while we dove for his leash. We heard the back door open. “Play with your dog in your own yard!” chastised the neighbor.


Alexander - cat curmudgeon Alexander - cat curmudgeon Afghan antics: My first Afghan, Juliet, born in 1980, was the most skilled at making me look like a fool. She was a blonde bombshell and expert conniver. You could see the wheels of trickery turning in her pretty head. Juliet went to basic obedience class in the late Fran Hickman’s garage where there were benches for guests to observe.

Fran was a nurse and talented dog trainer but her specialty was Dobermans- a breed that wants to please their owners. Her techniques did not mesh with sighthounds, especially Juliet an independent thinker. Thirty minute downs were a joke to Juliet. Nobody was going to keep her from being on the go. During one class, Juliet stood up on her hind legs and slapped Fran across the face with her paw. We were banished to the car. At another session Juliet pulled the leash out of my brother’s hand and started jumping over the benches (with guests sitting there) as if she was doing steeplechase. Juliet was left back in obedience school.

Juliet’s brother Alfie an Afghan from Babylon Shelter Class of 1981 was a dominant male. He had to be the last dog in the vet’s waiting room to keep him from going ballistic when other dogs entered. Alfie adored Juliet but took on the rest of the world. When we walked the Southards Pond path (decades before I knew Westminster Kennel Club had once been there), Alfie went into full attack mode if we came upon a trail of horses from the stable. Riders looked at us as if to say: “That skinny hairball has to be kidding.”

Halle, my black and tan Afghan, was a canine comedian and show-off. In her younger years she had leash freak-outs if a dog impressed her, or she decided something was unusual. Without warning she’d become a whirling dervish, twirling around uncontrollably as if possessed. The first time she met the Robert Moses statue by Babylon Village Hall; she put her needle nose in his crotch, and began a freakout on Montauk Highway. We were mortified because motorists witnessed this weird scene.

Halle attended indoor agility classes at Doggie U. She negotiated the equipment with ease when in the mood. But Halle got bored easily. She raced to whatever caught her fancy for a nanosecond. One night she didn’t feel like doing agility so she ran around the partition into the free style class where dogs were practicing dance routines with their owners. She stood in the middle of the room posing in front of the mirrors until they stopped the music so her flustered Mom could retrieve her.

Blushing because of Babylon Shelter alumni: In the early 1980s my friend Leslie took home a sick Schnoodle puppy. Cammi had distemper which was the death of many shelter dogs back then. Leslie did a great job nursing Cammi back to health. The pup repaid her by running out the doggy door with Leslie’s bra in her mouth. Leslie was aghast. What if the neighbors saw this? The next day Cammi went into heat. The bra was her way of announcing her canine womanhood. Cammi who lived to be 17 was brilliant.

Starsky was adorable. He resembled a Scotty on a Basset Hound frame, but his shelter time was up. He became a League for Animal Protection foster. Starsky had a prospective family in Mitchel Field military housing. My car window was open when we pulled up to the house. Starsky became too eager. He leaped out my window and ran up their stoop. “You blew it,” I said as I sheepishly drove him away.

Not Norm: Alexander is Cat Curmudgeon and unofficial mayor of Last Hope. We found him in a diaper box thrown in the bushes six years ago when Last Hope moved into the Wantagh Bideawee. He’s grown into a huge, ornery tabby. When he’s on Prozac, his best pal is volunteer Laura.

Three years ago Alex was invited to appear on Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl as a cat Norm from TV’s “Cheers”. He was supposed to sit on a bar stool and “comment” on the feline football game. The bar set-up was hollow cardboard. Alex explored inside but refused to cooperate on the bar stool. Plan B was to have Kitten Bowl hostess Beth Stern hold him while she made an on-camera adoption plea for Alex. Laura held her breath, so afraid Alex would scratch Beth Stern. Nope, he was good as gold.

Babylon Shelter adoptables (631-643-9270), Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Oakley” 17-443 was rescued at Oak Beach. He doesn’t belong to anyone there so he’s most likely dumped. “Roger” 7-408 loves to play fetch. All he needs is a loving home and a few cat toys.

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