2010-06-02 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
Babylon, home of the clubhouse and kennels belonging to Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) from 1880 to 1904, was linked with “pooch prestige” from the get-go. Although Madison Square Garden consistently hosted the yearly dog show, the marketing approach, capitalizing on the success of Westminster, has always been pure “Madison Avenue.” Early advertisements and testimonials promoting WKC champions or canine products often included “Babylon” in their endorsements.
Sensation, the Pointer who symbolized Westminster during his lifetime, lived up to his name even after his death. He was buried under the flagpole in front of the Babylon clubhouse in June 1887. Starting with the first show in 1877, Westminster published an annual show catalogue with an image of Sensation on most every cover. Inside the first catalogue were ads including one offering Sensation at a $35 stud fee. (Tiffany & Co. had a full page spread because the jewelry company made some of the show trophies.)
By the time the Babylon Westminster kennels opened, breeding had expanded. Thephoto shown here is an ad in a WKC catalogue from the early 1880s. Sensation and his distinguished kennel mate Bang Bang’s stud fee had increased to $50. Tramp, the other male available, was a Sensation son. WKC was also taking orders for planned pups from several females. All of these Pointers lived in Babylon.
Look at the bottom of the page. Thecontact person was esteemed dog man, James Mortimer, kennel manager in Babylon 1885-1892, also superintendent of the show at the Garden for 31 years (up until his death in 1915). Mortimer lived in the 18th C. farmhouse that served as the original Babylon clubhouse. The farmhouse was moved twice and still stands today at 358 Livingston. Westminster presents a yearly trophy in Mortimer’s memory to the best American-bred dog in the show.
Both Sensation and Mortimer were British imports crucial to the success of the young WKC. Mortimer was well versed in all things canine. The sporting journals of the time praised his skill at keeping the 100 to 200 WKC dogs (housed right next to Southards Pond) free of illness. Jacob Pentz writes about his visit to the Babylon WKC kennel in the 3/13/1886 “American Field”: “For a long time the club was cursed with that scourge of all large kennels, mange. The disease appears to be entirely eliminated…With so many dogs to look after, the care required to keep them in fine order is not even imagined by the ordinary dog-lover….I can but compliment Mr. Mortimer in the heartiest terms for the way in which he keeps his animals.”
Ah, but did Pentz know Mortimer’s mange secret? An article called “Veterinary Formulas” in an 1899 issue of “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record” let the cat out of the bag. Author W. A Dawson of Hempstead (hmmm. Mortimer happened to be managing the Hempstead Farm Kennels at that time) compiled and tested a list of prescriptions of “exceptional merit” which were “better than the general run of remedies”. Among them was the Westminster Kennel Club’s Cure for Mange. Dawson mentions that WKC has its clubhouse and kennels at Babylon, LI. Here is the cure. However, you may have to contact Moby Dick for one of the ingredients: Whale oil, genuine,1 pint; flowers of sulphur, 1oz.; oil of tar, 2 ozs.; crude petroleum, 1oz.
“Shake well, and rub in thoroughly once a day.” Now the caveat: “The whale oil must be the real thing and not the “fish oil” that is sent out by some wholesale dealers as whale oil.” Too bad. Wonder if this magic mixture might do the trick for formerly chained Pit Bulls entering shelters with demodectic mange. Nowadays mange and other canine skin conditions can still be alleviated with tar and sulphur shampoos but most vets skip the harpooning of huge sea mammals.
Long before Cesar Milan was plugging dog merchandise, in the April 1913 “Dog Fancier” magazine Babylon’s famous dog men chimed in on the virtues of Dr. Cecil French’s Vermicide Capsules (which happen to be worming pills). From August Belmont, president of the American Kennel Club. “Please ship to my address at Babylon, LI, New York, one kennel size box of Vermicide Capsules.” From James Mortimer, the popular Superintendent of the great Westminster Kennel Club Shows
at Madison Square Garden, and all round Judge at many shows on the AKC Circuit, has pronounced the following terse opinion: “Vermicide Capsules need no recommendation from me.” In contrast, Miss Margaret Brigham, of North Grafton Kennels was a bit more graphic in her praise. She bought Vermicide Capsules for her Scottish Terriers as a Christmas present, and states: “judging by one trial the murder committed was appalling…It was not a happy new year for the worm family but it certainly was for the Grafton Scotties.” How’s that for a testimonial?
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Lazarus” #93335 is a mystery. Good Samaritans found this senior purebred Golden Retriever in terrible distress, lying outside a pet warehouse by the shelter. He appeared to be near death so the shelter rushed him to the vet. What a pleasant surprise to see Lazarus alive the next day parading around the yard after his bath. He was covered in grease, is arthritic with large elbow callouses, but is an absolute doll who enjoys brushing and ear cleaning. This female Keeshond/Border Collie mix #93309, also a stray, appears to be looking for someone.
Male: Dane mix Cage 14; “Bradley” Pit mix; “Tigger” a brindle gentleman Cage 16; white Chihuahua.
Female: “Violet” Collie mix found in Babylon Village; “Jinni” carries her bowl Cage 48; “Patrice” Bull Terrier mix Cage 38; “Bella” Pit who wants to sit on your lap Cage 27.
Cats: “Yul” gorgeous Siamese -in the colony; 2 lobby cats named “Mushy”; kittens.
•Last Hope Free Rabies Vaccine Clinic for dogs & cats: Sunday June 6 from 11 to 3 at Cat Center Center, 581 W. Jericho Tpke. Huntington. Last Hope will have a second free rabies shot clinic at Babylon Town Shelter on Sunday June 27th. See www.lasthopeanimalrescue. org. Pets for Adoption