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2009-06-17 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Save the Date: You are invited to Bella Notte, a special event to benefit Last Hope Animal Rescue's needy yet lovable dogs and cats on Thurs. Sept. 3rd from 6 to 9 pm at Sergio's Restaurant in Massapequa.

Setting the Stage: The spaghetti and meatball scene in Disney's Lady & the Tramp is as romantic as Scarlet and Rhett or Bogey and Bergman. Who can forget the cooks on mandolin and concertina serenading the runaway dogs in the alley? "Oh, this is the night, it's a beautiful night and we call it bella notte. Look at the skies they have stars in their eyes on this lovely bella notte."

Lady & the Tramp has a special place in my heart since it was the first movie I ever saw at a theater. I was a 4 years old in Queens so when my godmother picked me up with her friend who I had never met, I screamed bloody murder because you weren't supposed to go anywhere with strangers. Good thing my mother shoved me into the car. The dogs and colorful animation were beyond my wildest dreams.

"Lady and Edgar" announce Last Hope's "Bella Notte" benefit. "Lady and Edgar" announce Last Hope's "Bella Notte" benefit. For about 15 years a huge poster of Lady and her beau Tramp sharing spaghetti was a focal point in my classroom. A buff Cocker puppy visited one day and we posed her next to the poster. Thephoto of the puppy superimposed on the poster in an avant-garde way became a permanent fixture. Later the same Disney poster hung up in Babylon Shelter. Now it's getting spruced up for the Bella Notte party.

Last Hope's upcoming Bella Notte party is an evening of Italian cuisine and "puppy love" attempting to recapture the spaghetti and meatball magic. We're not forgetting cats. After all, "we are Siamese, if you please." The event is still evolving. First I wanted the "right" Italian eatery to set the mood. It had to have a private room plus be stucco with that 1950s feel. Too many restaurants were either heavy duty marble or too gladiator. I went to about 15 places before choosing Sergio's in Massapequa. Theroom is cozy yet rustic. (In contrast, the setting was never in question for last fall's "Pesos for Paco". Our fiesta funder for the Chihuahua who needed orthopedic surgery was designed around Don Ricardos in Babylon.)

Mangia: For the "Bella Notte" menu, Sergio's will serve a full dinner with a choice of entrée, beer, wine, and soda included. Mike, the owner, was kind enough to add the symbolic spaghetti and meatballs to our selection. I am on the hunt for a baker who can recreate the smoochable scene on a sheet cake. Last Hope (www. lasthopeanimalrescue.org) will be selling tickets soon at $45 a person, but please decide quickly; our cozy room can only accommodate 70.

Besides the old poster I started gathering Lady & the Tramp memorabilia, mostly off EBay, for decorations and raffleprizes. A California lady sold me three prints that had been on a bedroom wall for 52 years. As a little girl, she would talk to Lady, Tramp and Trusty at night when she got scared. So far, I have a vintage tray and purse, but do have my eye on an antique movie poster showing Tramp on his way to the dog pound.

Music, Maestro: I want to do better than a concertina/ mandolin duet. Our special Mr. Maestro will make the evening complete. Gregory Williams, acclaimed violist will be performing popular and classical Italian music. My third grade alumnus Gregory, now 25 and a teacher himself, was (is?) a musical prodigy. (When are you too old to be a prodigy?)

As a toddler he sat down at the piano and began playing the theme from the Jetsons by ear. While Gregory was in my class he won a young composer competition at Hofstra for a symphony he wrote for his baby sister. Thesame year he made his stage debut by playing keyboard inside a washing machine box for our "Slug Fashion Show", our puppet production, where he learned the cruel lesson- the show MUST go on. When it got stifling inside the box, I sprinkled him with water and told him to keep playing. Years later I had the privilege of seeing him twice at Carnegie Hall as part of the NY Youth Philharmonic.

A graduate of Boston University and the Eastman School of Music, Gregory has played at Tanglewood and many other venues. When I was still teaching, he would drop in to play impromptu requests for my students. Presently he organizes alumni concerts for the school district's music scholarship. Wait until you hear him play viola.

Amore: A few details still need work. I'd like to stage photos of couples at the outdoor bistro table, reenacting the spaghetti slurp. In the meantime my Edgar Afghan Poe and his sister Charlotte are trying their best to announce the pasta party by going Hollywood in "Pets". I'm also figuring out how to have a DVD of the movie

play during the dinner.

Call for Chianti Bottles: There's a reason why I am mentioning the event so early. We need empty Chianti bottles to make the candle centerpieces. So if you happen to have any empties in the trademark basket, please don't throw them away. By the way, Ferraro's in Babylon Village has the right vintage. Salute! Please leave me a bottle message at the Beacon or Post.

Speaking of Vino: Last Hope's Wine Tasting Benefit at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Huntington is this Fri. June 19 from 6 to 9 pm- $45 tickets can be purchased at the door… Also there will be a free charity networking event at Fat Fish in Bay Shore on Tues. June 23 from 6 to 8 pm to benefit both Last Hope (www. lasthopeanimalrescue.org) and Long Island Cares, Inc. the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www. licares.org). Guests are asked to bring an item on the organizations' wish list.

For Adoption: Thedogs and cats at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon have a wish list too. They are wishing for a loving home. This adorable female piebald Dachshund was found in Wellwood Cemetery wearing a rhinestone collar, yet no one claimed her. Four-year old "Carly" in the white lobby cage is an ideal cat- calico, friendly, spayed and already declawed. Females: mature red Doberman Cage 44; young Shihtzu found on Sunrise Hwy; "Hallie" playful Pit who has been at the shelter over a year Cage 38. Males: Akita mix Cage 12; a new Beagle Cage 1; Puggle Cage 18; ": Phelps" Retriever mix who swam the Babylon canal Cage 5; "Skitz"- wonderful tabby in lobby.

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