2012-02-22 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
Last Tuesday evening, the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show culminated with a “Peke on the Rocks.” “Malachy,” a fouryear old Pekingese, beat over 2000 champions entered in 185 breeds and varieties. Shortly after wobbling away with the coveted silver bowl, the stubby-nosed Best In Show posed for press room photos atop a nylon ice pack so he wouldn’t overheat in all the excitement.
Malachy’s “15 minutes” had just begun. Champion Palacegarden Malachy and his imperial court began a two-day victory tour the next morning at 5:45 a.m. with stops at each TV morning show; the Empire State Building Observation Deck; Sardi’s for the traditional “steak on a platter” (which became chicken and rice ‘cuz Malachy doesn’t like steak); the Toy Fair at Jacob Javits (only fitting because this toy dog looks like a stuffed Ewok) and then ending at Donald Trump’s office around 6 p.m. Hard to believe the hairy bobble head covered so much NYC ground if you saw the baby steps he took around the ring. His entourage must have taken a cooler of ice along for the trek.
Malachy’s win came as no great surprise. He was in the final Westminster line up last year alongside his owner/handler David Fitzpatrick dragging a leg cast. With 114 previous best in shows, the Peke was a favorite again; and when two top contenders (“Beckham” the black Cocker and “Eira” the Wire Fox Terrier) failed to win their breeds, Malachy’s chances got better. During the press conference, one of his coowners, archaeologist Dr. Iris Love, attributed some of her Peke’s good fortune to the Year of the Dragon.
I helped gather the Best of Breed (BOB) fact sheets for TV again. The task was a bit more hectic because of six additional AKC breeds and renovation at the Garden. Much of the benching area is gone. The Toy and Terrier Groups were exiled to the Theater for benching and breed judging. A half hour before the Tuesday broadcast, I was still searching for the Scotty in the Theater. Her BOB sheet wasn’t turned in, so her call name and win statistics needed verification.
We try to get the owners and handlers to include interesting anecdotes about their winning dogs in hopes that there will be enough air time to mention some- like the NYC dentist who showed his Bulldog. He brushes Caleb’s teeth, but stops at flossing them. On Valentine’s Day two handlers were wed in the benching area. The winning Tibetan Mastiff gave away the bride who hadn’t yet changed into her gown when she handed in a BOB sheet.
Stories about the winners follow various themes such as the celebrity namesakes including the ASCOB Cocker christened “Sully” because a friend of the owner was supposed to be on the plane that ditched in the Hudson; “Jayne Hathaway” the Sharpei from the “Beverly Hill Billy” litter; “Schatze Paige” a Weimaraner named for Lauren Bacall in “How to Marry a Millionaire”; “Tina Fey” a Brussels Griffon or “Ava” the Sheltie. Her whole litter was named for starlets of old.
Certain dogs have traveled great distances. “JR” the Miniature Schnauzer and his owner/handler came from Beijing where his breed is quite popular. “Nacira,” my friend’s Afghan Hound, was born in Chile, raised in the US and now lives in Sweden. She won BOB at Westminster for the second time.
Some BOB winners have survived catastrophes or overcome obstacles. “Emily” the Irish Setter, the Sporting
Group winner, had a litter of 15 last spring and is back to top form. All her puppies lived which is an accomplishment in itself. At four months old, “Celine” the English Cocker survived a house fire after another dog alerted the family. Once it was discovered that “Bishop” the Colored Bull Terrier was banished to a garage, his breeders took him back and launched his show career. On a lighter note, “Drummer” a Bichon was born in a log cabin on Christmas Eve during a snowstorm.
Secret food preferences are revealed. “Aiden” the Borzoi goes to McDonald’s for a McDouble and vanilla cone after every show. “Brambley” the Curly- Coated Retriever holds out for baby carrots and Laughing Cow cheese whereas “Stanley” the particolored Cocker prefers Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Great PR backs some of the winners. “Fifi” the Doberman is known as “The Fifinator” on her Facebook page; “Joe” the Affenpinscher exudes “Monkeynality” while “Dazzle” the English Setter has team colors which happen to be sparkly, hot pink. The highest accolades have to go to the achievers who do what they were bred to do- those dogs like “Gator” the Anatolian Shepherd who guards a cattle ranch in Idaho, protecting calves from wolves, coyotes and mountain lions, or to “George” the Swissie who can weight pull over 3,300 pounds or to “Daphne” the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Her breed was once known as “the Nanny Dog” because they took such good care of kids. Nowadays they are often maligned along with every Bully type. Daphne plays fetch hours on end with a special needs child.
Major changes are planned for Westminster next year. Daytime breed judging will be at Piers 92/94 by the West Side Highway while Group judging, Junior Showmanship Finals and Best In Show will remain at Madison Square Garden in the evening. The entry limit will be increased from 2,000 to 3,200 dogs which will include dogs that have not earned their championships yet, but do have “majors.” Guess it will be a lot harder to hunt down the elusive Scotty.
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Our poster pets are not striving for Best In Show, just Best in a Home. “Charlotte” #12-57 is a sweet Shih tzu. She watched three Yorkies get adopted last weekend but no one looked at her. “Freddy” is a handsome and lovable longhaired tuxedo in the Cat Colony.
Male: black Lab pup; Chihuahua; a selection of Pit types.
Female: “Hope” Shepherd mix; “Blossom” white Beagle; “Delilah” American Bulldog; “Diamond” brindle Pit darling.