Ripley was one of the most amazing dogs ever to step paw into Babylon Shelter and Last Hope. This perfectly behaved, eight-year-old Cockapoo was surrendered to Babylon Town Shelter in 2015 by a young owner who loved him but couldn’t afford to keep any dog. The man barely had a roof over his own head.
After a short stay at Babylon Shelter, I moved Ripley to Last Hope in Wantagh. It didn’t take long before Ripley had a fan club made up of Last Hope volunteers, and an adoption application from Mary who met Ripley during her Friday shift. She had recently lost both her dogs to old age.
Bon Appétit Magazine Video: Before Ripley went home, Last Hope received an invitation the equivalent of Cinderella rescue dogs being invited to the prince’s ball. Bon Appétit magazine asked Last Hope to bring shelter dogs to their NYC studio to tape a video of our pups enjoying a three-course gourmet meal prepared by renowned Chef Jean-Georges. Each shelter dog would be dining with a blind date– a celebrity social media dog. The video would promote the magazine and adopting homeless dogs from shelters.
The filming was taking place the morning of the day Pope Francis would fly to NYC. We were invited to Bon Appétit because of a recommendation from the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center (AMC),
also in NYC. Last Hope’s Pammy Sue was a Kentucky puppy mill Shih Tzu used for breeding, then discarded because of a broken leg.
Once at Last Hope, Pammy Sue had orthopedic limb repair in 2014, courtesy of “AMC to the Rescue.” Then, she was adopted by her foster mom, Sue. After her leg healed, Pammy Sue was invited back to the AMC to do a photo shoot which was used to showcase “AMC to the Rescue,” their pro bono veterinary program, in an AMC financial publication.
Our Chef: Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the world’s most famous chefs, and the restaurateur behind many three- and four-star restaurants worldwide. He prepared two different Michelin three-star menus for the blind dates in different versions of the video “Doggy Bag,” and in the videos, greeted his “patrons” to ask them how they enjoyed their meal, and whether they’d be dining with him again.
Our Canine Cast: As Sue and I viewed the city maps listing where streets would be closed for the Pope’s visit and the UN General Assembly meeting, we feared we’d be stuck in the city with our selected dog stars because of gridlock and security checks. Pammy Sue, a Last Hope Bloodhound puppy named Jelly and my late Charlotte, an English Toy Spaniel from a Lindenhurst hoarder house and Babylon Shelter alumna were our first choices. Jelly felt under the weather the day before his celebrity opportunity, and Ripley filled in for him. In retrospect, we couldn’t have picked a better dog actor than Ripley. Plus, our
Bloodhound puppy never would have had the attention span for this task.
The Studio: The dogs sat at a lovely table covered with “Lady & the Tramp”-trademark red and white check gingham. Their candles were lit (yes, really!), and their wine poured by the debonair French waiter who was actually Philippe Vongerichten, director of operations at his father’s restaurants. Ripley rehearsed first. He did well but then tried to climb over the table.
Thankfully, the candles weren’t lit or the wine poured yet. Trainer Adam worked on Ripley’s sit/stays in the lobby while Charlotte’s video was filmed. The result was a flawless performance by our talented Mr. Ripley.
Ripley had the pleasure of the late Marnie Chihuahua ‘s company during his feast. In 2012, Marnie was rescued from a Connecticut shelter when she was a matted Shih Tzu about ten years old with a head tilt. After 14 teeth were extracted, her tongue always hung out of her mouth. At the time, she was the most popular senior dog on Instagram with 1.8 million followers. The duo wolfed down roasted marrow bone with salmon roe and brioche croutons, then orecchiette and meatballs with fresh ricotta. Their waiter offered them a glass of water to clear their pup palates before enjoying a peanut butter ice cream sundae for dessert. To see Ripley’s video, go to: www.bonappetit.com/ people/chefs/article/jean-georges-vongerichten-doggy-bag.
Meanwhile, my Charlotte, who dined with Manny the French (who is still a social media star), was not as cooperative. She kept running off stage to find me in the audience, so I became her pup puppeteer, lying on the floor under her tablecloth holding her leash to keep her in place. I was so tempted to devour Charlotte’s short ribs when a tantalizing tidbit fell on the floor next to my nose.
Ripley moved to his new home with Mary later the same day. Years later he welcomed a little Shih Tzu sister named Maggie, displaced by divorce, and in 2022, Twister, a southern transport tiny Terrier afflicted with heartworm. Ripley was the perfect big brother and pet every day.
His Mom Mary is extremely careful about bringing her dogs to the vet. She was with Ripley two weeks ago when, at age 15 or 16, he was released from the pain from fast-growing oral tumors that seemed to appear overnight. Remarkable Ripley spent his whole rescued life as a completely agreeable pup. We believe he remains a perfect pet and canine celebrity at the Rainbow Bridge.
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