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2017-08-16 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

We’re into the “dog days of summer.” It’s a great time of year to share with our canine friends even though kids (and teachers) are counting vacation days left until school starts. This “Pets” will describe some recent dog happenings and future events. Here goes:

*Blue Streak- Often we don’t know a dog’s real birthday when adopted or rescued from a shelter. A “Gotcha’ Day” is the same as an “Adopt-a-versary.” It’s a celebration of the day a dog found a forever home. My Edgar Afghan Poe marks his “Gotcha Day” on Aug. 12. Nine years ago Edgar came home to stay. He arrived in Babylon a month after the middle-of-the-night raid at his New Mexico house when authorities seized 67 Afghan Hounds and 25 parrots, all neglected. That month took terrified Edgar to Santa Fe Shelter, Newark airport, a kennel in Deer Park with six other Afghans for recovery and assessment, a foster home in Philly with the Afghan Hound Club of America Rescue chair, a foster home with a veterinary behaviorist in CT and finally back to me on LI.

Ernest the mellow Lab won the Last Hope dog hula contest. Ernest the mellow Lab won the Last Hope dog hula contest. Edgar decided he would get his topknot streaked for his ninth Gotcha Day. His groomer highlighted strands of hair framing his face with royal blue grooming chalk. It’s subtle, semipermanent and adds to his Afghan allure. A few weeks ago an adorable toddler saw Edgar on a walk and turned to her Mom saying, “Is he a lion?”

*Southards Woods- The wooded trails from tennis courts to Southards Pond, and all the way to Belmont Lake are a dog walking paradise. (I admit I’m quite biased because these woods also contains the former Westminster Kennel Club property where I’ve spent years researching the precise sites of the clubhouse and Sensation, Westminster’s logo Pointer’s grave.)

Zoey, in her grass skirt with matching headpiece, came in third. Zoey, in her grass skirt with matching headpiece, came in third. Dogs and their walking partners share the trail with joggers, baby strollers and bicyclists. Plenty of regulars visit the park at the same time each day. If you vary your schedule slightly, you meet up with an entirely different canine crew. Many passerby pups are dripping wet because they’ve been swimming.

The other day we met a man with his 14-year-old Lab at one of the bridges. The Lab goes into every stream to cool off. He just stands in the water until he gets enough relief; then saunters on to the next watering hole to soak again. The man waits patiently for his old friend.

Plenty of dogs swim in Southards Pond just like the Westminster dogs did from 1880 to 1904. On the same day, we spied a Golden Retriever in the distance. She was fetching the stick her mom kept throwing in the pond while ignoring a family of ducklings paddling a few feet away. With every drop of “retriever” etched into her DNA, the Golden’s only focus was the stick. On the way back to the tennis courts, her mom told us how she rescued her from life as a “puppy machine” confined to a bleak garage. The backyard breeder was getting rid of the Golden because she was still a pup herself and not interested in raising her first litter.

Regulars may also notice a changing of the guard at Southards. For years, one breeding pair of mute swans monopolized the whole pond because the cob (male swan) was a powerful, ornery bird. Whenever other swans dared venture on “their” private pond, he would put up his wings to create a white battleship, charge the trespassers and drive them off. Last year he chased many challengers, but this year, Scrooge has either given up (or died) because there’s been many swan squatters sailing around Southards.

*Appreciation BBQ- Each August Last Hope hosts a Volunteer & Adopter Appreciation BBQ outside the Adoption Center in Wantagh. Adopted dogs are invited while the cats stay home. We have a different theme each year. Last year we held summer Olympic contests for the dogs. This year was a luau so we had a dog hula contest which became more of a Hawaiian fashion show. Many dogs were decked out in grass skirts or Don Ho attire.

I look forward to the BBQ each year because it’s wonderful to see dogs that were once homeless, neglected, abandoned or surrendered with their new families who adore them. Ernest, a mellow Lab from Kentucky, won the hula contest. Banjo looked so handsome in his lei and bandanna ensemble. He was found tied to the gate at Wyandanch High School after a bad storm. Babylon Shelter discovered he had heartworm and asked Last Hope to take him because the shelter was full. After heartworm treatment, Banjo was adopted by a lovely lady. Her grandson and Banjo are inseparable.

Zoey wore an adorable grass skirt and matching headpiece. She came from an LI situation reminiscent of the Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho.” After cherry eye surgery, she was adopted by a loving family. In September, Zoey will go upstate to college with the daughter to become her emotional support dog.

*Clear the Shelters- This Saturday is a special event called “Clear the Shelters.” NBC and Telemundo owned stations are teaming up with at least 700 shelters across the country to host the third annual “Clear the Shelters,” a nationwide pet adoption drive on Aug. 19 to help find loving homes for animals in need. Over 53,000 pets found their forever homes in 2016. Animal shelters and rescues throughout the U.S. waive or reduce adoption fees in hopes of clearing the shelters of all pets looking for forever homes.

Babylon, Hempstead and Smithtown shelters are waiving all fees Saturday. Last Hope is participating for the first time and will be waiving fees for approved adopters of dogs and cats who submit their adoption applications at the Wantagh Adoption Center or any of the four cat satellite centers in Petco Wantagh and Syosset; PetSmart Bellmore or Huntington Station on Aug. 19. Last Hope criteria for approved homes will remain the same even though fees are waived for the day.

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