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2006-03-22 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets...

by Joanne Anderson

"Flushing Out Vivi" or "The Wayward Whippet Part 2"

 Pets of the Week  Cosby the Australian shepherd mix is shown at top. Above is Brandy, the hound mix. Pets of the Week Cosby the Australian shepherd mix is shown at top. Above is Brandy, the hound mix. The search for the Westminster Whippet lost at JFK in February has shifted 10 miles north. Sightings by locals and tracking by 2 pet detectives' dogs seem to confirm that Vivi is roaming the interconnected parks and streets of Flushing. The searchers, and anyone I can connive to come along for the ride, are getting to know Queens quite well. I can even tell you the best Bayside kosher deli to buy chopped liver. You'll need protein for stamina to keep up with Vivi's Incredible Journey.

The parksAlley Pond, Kissena, Cunningham, Peckare gorgeous, but vast, with so many niches for the hound to hide. Just as her rescuers approach, the apparition vanishes. "Plan B" is to plaster the area with the 20,000 Vivi flyers. The pet detectives claim that most lost dogs are found by strangers so everyone must know she's near. One of these sightings has to pay off.

The bilingual poster is ubiquitous. (Sure wish we had Korean ones now too.) You can't miss them on poles, but handing out the flyer with the "personal touch" piques interest. Residents seem to know Vivi was lost at the airport, yet aren't aware that she may be around the corner. They perk right up when they hear that. The security guard at the Bayside apartments (where someone supposedly opened the door for the dog) promises to inform the night shift. Grave diggers swear they will keep their eyes open. Dog walkers insist they're the best scouts.

Twice last week I dragged my brother, a biker/body builder type, to Queens. He waited in the car while I chased passersby with the poster. We didn't want to give anyone a heart attack if he rushed up. How would they know he's really a mush who was terrified of the Nestles Farfel dog puppet as a kid? (See BEACON archives 1/26/


The Whippet watchers put their lives on hold. Her California owners have been back and forth, using the Garden City Hotel as headquarters, but they never get to sleep there. Most nights they "stake out" spots where she's visited. Bonnie and Honi, the search coordinators, get calls 24/7, while Denise updates her Newsday "Animal House" blog several times a day. I skipped

times a day. I skipped a retired teacher luncheon when a lady said she was following Vivi at Peck Park. Yesterday Corrinne and I flew out of Babylon Shelter as soon as we learned that some Bagley Ave. kids had seen her twice.

Meanwhile the Vivi bloggers have become a computer cult of insomniac dog lovers. Their posts run as long as the Whippet War and Peace. Psychics, sighthound owners, and folks who have lost dogs brainstorm with the searchers in the field. Few have ever met the hound who has touched them so deeply. Theories abound. The bloggers have scrutinized Queens from afar better than the CIA. Is there a drain pipe linking the parks that Vivi uses as her hideaway? Will an infrared light work?

I chime in only when I have firsthand details to report. Last week the bloggers raised several thousand dollars to hire the latest pet detective from Baltimore. Complete strangers set up a bank account and organized her itinerary. They fax and Fed-ex more posters, now they're pricing a billboard. A Seattle woman contacted me about letting the pet detective borrow our humane trap that's been sitting at the Vetport with Vivi's towel inside. Others continue positive meditation and candle light vigils. Vivi's become their patron saint.

So why am I there? I have more than my share of lost pets to deal with at the shelter. It's a "six degrees of separation" thing. There's a huge photo of Vivi in Dog News from last fall when life was still good for her. It shows the gorgeous greyhound after winning the Group, posing with her owner who published my stories and 2 AKC judgesone gave me my beloved Afghan, Trevor, and the other, his mother, adopted a Whippet I found at Babylon Shelter years ago. I've had Afghans that can run at the speed of light slip away, so I know this helpless feeling. That's my bond with the dog.

The canine world is very small. Vivi has brought the show and rescue camps together. Wednesday we stopped to talk to John outside his Flushing home. He told us the Newsday crew had just left, and hopped in the car to show us where the strays hung out in Peck Park. He said he helped Rottweilers and knew Vivi's "Thelma & Louise" duo from other adoptions. As a long shot, I asked him if he knew Monica and the "other" Bonnie, my LI Rottie Rescue pals. Of course, he did. They had placed one of his Rotties with a priest. When I called Bonnie to verify, she said: "Sure, I know John. Face it. You can probably stop at any corner in NYC, and shout "Rottweiler" to the guy standing there. If there's any recognition, he knows me."

Come on out, Vivi, I have chopped liver.... Yes, I'm picking up complete strangers in the city to help look for this wayward Whippet since I have my body guard brother in the car. However, once he sees this in the paper, there won't be time to tell him how much I appreciate his help. In fact, you may never hear from me again.

Back home at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon, many other lost and homeless dogs and cats hope someone will take them home. "Cosby" in Cage 5 is a very loving, Australian shepherd mix with a bob tail. He was found in Babylon Village and was extremely patient while some mats were shaved off. "Brandy" is a 1 year female Hound mix in Cage 93 who has been at the shelter quite long. See more photos on the Babylon's Petfinder site.

Males: "A-Rod"the ball playing Shep. mix in Cage 37; 2 purebred, young Beagles.

Females: a dog that resembles a Canaan dog (a rare breed from Israel) in Cage 51; a petite, black Ridgeback mix in Cage 87; "Winnie"the Boxer mix in Cage 53.

Low Cost Spay/Neuter: Island Rescue in Bay Shore968-8700.

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