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2008-07-16 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

 

On the road to rescue "Don," the lemon and white Pointer made two symbolic stops. First he sniffed the "Sensation Shrine" by the Babylon tomb of his namesake in West­minster's woods; then within view of the Statue of Liberty, he waited for his Pointer Rescue foster Mom to begin his new life: "Give me your tired, your poor…"; you know the rest….

 

Since I've spent so much time chas­ing after the long dead Pointer, discovering Don seemed a bit uncanny. Regular "Pets" readers know that for almost two years I've been looking for remnants of West­minster (WKC) Kennel Club's clubhouse (1880-1904) and the grave of Sensation, WKC's iconic Pointer near Southards Pond in Babylon. The search has narrowed to a mystery mound that matches specific old maps and aerial shots. In many ways, my Westminster quest has been a "Dogsend" from the heavens; a gift handed to me on a silver platter. What dog lover would expect to have the K-9 King Tut practically buried in her backyard? The hunt combines everything I love- purebred dogs, archaeology, journalism, science. I've been blessed with the help of experts in many fields. I'm en­joying every moment of the pursuit.

Above, original Sensa­tion. Top right, Don at Westminster's South­ards Pond. Below right, Don with Professor Tiger.

However, I also have an instant obliga­tion to certain dogs in town shelters. From first glance, I feel compelled to get them in the right hands. "Don" a stray Pointer, a Sensation replica, the breathing manifesta­tion of the object of my search, peeked out from a run in Oyster Bay Shelter last May. I stopped dead in my tracks. The frightened pup, though greasy and covered with ticks, was the image of the WKC dog show mascot. He was a "lemon and white" Pointer just like Sen­sation.

 

In 25 years of pounding the pound pavement, I've stumbled upon German Shorthairs, English Pointers too- but never a "lemon and white." Was this Pointer pup a celestial test or another "Dogsend"?

 

 

Needless to say, I had to help him. I owed it to Sen­sation - originally "Don" until WKC charter members changed his name to create a sensation- to Westmin­ster; to this goofy pup. He'd been picked up in affluent Brookville, not your typical dog dumping grounds. De­spite this, he lacked the refinement of his renowned prede­cessor and/or his fancy neighborhood.

 

Hyper "Don" barked, marked, and seemed hell bent on finding the shelter cats that he could smell but could not see. Instinctually, he "pointed" toward them. He acted as if he had been a kennel dog with little social interaction. The persistent Pointer could care less about the person who was hell bent on saving him from himself. Love at first sight was not reciprocated.

I feared he'd appeal to novice adopters because he was so handsome. He'd boomerang, so I got permission to take him as a Last Hope Ani­mal Rescue foster; but still wor­ried we wouldn't do right by him. We'd find him a responsi­ble"pet" home, but, most likely, neither unruly Don, nor the new owners, would be happy with the pairing.

 

 

The dog had to reach his Pointer potential. His behavior cried out for James Mortimer, WKC's esteemed show super­intendent ('til his death in 1915), the man who also managed the 200 dogs in their Babylon ken­nels. At least six would accom­pany him each time he shopped in our Village. Realistically, Don needed Sporting Dog people who appreciated why he was put on earth.

 

The shelter was kind enough to let me sign Don out but leave him there while we waited for intervention from Pointer Rescue Organization (PRO), the breed's national network. I sent PRO an inquiry along with my WKC re­search; then filled out an online intake application, but had to wait until they found a foster home. It took over a month before PRO was able to "pull" Don.

Enter stage left from Ithaca- Nicole Krauss, PRO volunteer. She's Don's "Dog­send", and modern day James Mortimer. Presently Don is in the best of hands. I couldn't have conjured up a better foster Mom. She understands Pointers and gets res­cued dogs to grasp what is expected of them. She makes sure Don is not in a situation where he will fail. He's the ninth Pointer to enter her home. Though not the neediest stu­dent, Don is remedial. Barking and cat chas­ing are his worst subjects.

 

Poster Pet Fanny Mae, Border Collie mix

Don is surrounded by his kind. He's learning on a flexi-leash with her two Pointers, an English Setter and a Boxer, all proper females modeling canine etiquette. He bonded to her husband and buddies with her daughter. Don's been exposed to horses while also under the tutelage of Professor Tiger, resident feline. After two weeks of Cats 101, Don can go nose to nose with the Professor; a huge accomplishment for a dog that displayed unrelenting prey drive. Nicole is working on Don's barking self-control. Time in training now will prepare Don for a forever home, one without a boomerang.

 

Sorry, I jumped ahead in Don's saga. A few weeks ago, Nicole's family planned a mini-vacation around Don's rendezvous. They'd spend a weekend in Manhat­tan, and we'd meet up at Liberty State Park in New Jersey as they were about to return home upstate. After his neuter, Don had a PJ party at the Last Hope Dog Center making him accessible for his Sunday jour­ney. We detoured to the Westminster property so Don could walk the hallowed Babylon ground where all the famous Pointers once roamed. He posed for a photo shoot at the possible WKC Sensation gravesite. Don was in his glory.

Later I wanted more Pointer pictures with the Statue of Liberty in the background, but our timing couldn't have been worse. We met up during a violent thunderstorm. I'd like to think that the thunder was the spirit of Sensation, voicing his approval; and the lightning, Sensa­tion again, refusing to be upstaged by Lady Liberty, a mightier sym­bol.

Back at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon “Fanny Mae” a unique Border Collie/Portuguese Water Dog mix is homeless, but she wants to be “bailed” out by someone loving, not the Fed. “Fanny Mae” in Cage 5 is the ultimate hostess. She hands you her paw, and asks you to keep holding on. Her interesting profile gives off a look that is part shark and part Larry Fine.

Cats: the sweet eviction cats; a solid white kitten in the lobby.

Dogs: “Panda” Cage 7; “Sammy”-black Lab Cage 13; “Buddy”- big yellow lab Cage 35; Generic sweet brown dog Cage 28; Beagle/Corgi found at Tanner Park Cage 31.

 

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