I don’t know about you but for me there are times when the world is so too much with us that I feel maybe I should adopt another dog. Or at cat. Or whatever your pet of choice is. Dogs are mine these days. Years ago it was dogs and cats. I had more cats than dogs. I like both dogs and cats. And they actually like each other too.
They all came to me. Someone brought one around. Or someone called to ask. I would tend to say yes. That’s how I got my youngest doodle-dog as I call her, Missy. Someone called. Buster I got from the CACC on 110th Street.
I can still remember the way Buster looked at me when they brought him out from the cages and he first saw me standing there. He never even looked at me; just walked around on the gravel as if going nowhere. Then he took a dump. And then he stood there. It was like: “why are you here?”
Buster was not an optimist, I could see immediately. He was dirty too. Grey dirty. Needed a good bath. They weren’t sure that he didn’t have mange because he was red and irritated and hairless around his hindside and underside.. I walked him home, back to 83rd Street, figuring the long walk would get him used to being with me. I had another dog at the time who’s since passed on called Boyzie-Woyzie.
I got Buster home and gave him a bath. He was agreeable, not difficult in the bath. And had no plans for the future. He had already had three homes. He looked a little better after his bath, although not much. He had no expectations either; I could just tell that. When I petted him, it was, “okay, if you want, but I’m not planning on anything.”
I took him to a vet about his mange. She said it wasn’t mange, could have just been nerves and why not just keep him clean and wait and see. We didn’t have to wait long. It cleared up. And never came back. It was nerves. That was in 1997 and Buster’s looking good these days.
Buster has always been one of two or three dogs. All shih-tzus, all rescued/adopted. He’s a sweet little guy. He’s about twelve now. He’s had to deal with Missy for the past almost five years. She’s a tornado. Some people call her hyper. I call her Missy. Buster just accommodates her because he knows that’s the best way to have peace. Although when he’s finished his bowl (I give him a little more), he does go over and sit by her and her bowl and chows down as soon as she skips a beat. She lets him. If she minded, he’d know.
I’m very tall, especially compared to these spiritual giants, and they are very small in my all-too-human estimation. So I think I must look ridiculous walking down the street with these guys. Like something not all that flattering to my male self. But frankly, I live with them and they have no problems making themselves and their needs known. So they’re in the driver’s seat and what can I say?
I’m telling you all this because for one thing I can go on and on about my dogs. We talk to each other all the time. They call me Dave and have relatively high voices so that no doubt sometimes even the neighbors can hear them. Which can give the neighbors the impression that I’m crazy. But we get a lotta laughs out of our conversations. Also they’re very critical and yet I never have anything but a kind word to say about them.
The other reason I’m telling you this is the more important one. It’s about ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. They had their annual summer fundraising benefit (called Chow Chow Bow Wow)(cutesy yes, but funny yes also) last Saturday night at Ellen and Chuck Scarborough’s house in Southampton. The Scarboroughs are always there for ARF and the animules. This is not the first time they’ve opened their lovely summer house for the cause. It takes a certain kind of person to do that. Especially out in Southampton where people are very finicky about who comes to their house, etc. Not the Scarboroughs, at least not when it comes to the dawgs and cats.
This year’s benefit honored “Katrina, the Chow” who was rescued from New Orleans after the hurricane tragedy of the same name. Sometimes, out of nowhere I’ll remember that television image of the little boy who was being evacuated and was crying and calling to his dog whom they could not by law evacuate. That thought is always accompanied by a similar memory. Years ago during the Bosnian wars I was discussing with my now late friend Dorothy Hirshon the horror for all those helpless men, women and children whose worlds and lives were being destroyed by the madness of silly men and their “beliefs.” Dorothy concurred with disgust in her voice and added emphatically, “and what about all the poor animals who had no say in this?!” What about all the poor animals who have no say?
Well ARF, like many others, like the ASPCA and the Humane Society and the Bide-A-Wee and the CACC and the North Shore Animal Hospital, are all out there doing something about that everyday. And they need all the help they can get, be it hands or cash. And those of us who adopt/rescue are doing something about it. The return you get is love and devotion. No matter what anyone says, it brings out the love in you and that feels damned good in even the darkest moments.
Kristin Thompson, Richard Thompson, Sara Davison, Chuck and Ellen Scarborough, and Frances Hayward
Meanwhile, back to ARF. They always have a few animals to adopt at their benefits. I’ve told this before so I’ll rush through, but JH, the other half of NYSD, the guy with the Digital, was covering the event five years ago (it was held at Sandra McConnell’s house in Southampton), when we met Oliver Dawg.
Oliver was a cutie but he came with a bad record. Or a bad rap. He had had at least three homes before this night and he had a look on his face that said: “I can’t be trusted, I just have to bust out sometimes.” Or something. However JH took him home anyway.
That was 2001. The picture of him here was taken a few weeks ago. He’s been minding JH’s house ever since. He was lying on JH’s bed trying to get some rest when the Digital man was inspired to take this pic. You can see he doesn’t quite have that look of “watch out, you never know” anymore. The look is more: “so what’s for breakfast?” Or: “so, where’s mine?” Or, “why are you bothering me? What is your problem?”
JH is good master. He walks Ol three or four times a day. Himself, not walkers. It’s not always easy: Oliver likes eating all garbage that he can make a dash for. Or, sometimes he’ll just lie down in the sun and refuse to get up. But that’s not all that frequently. Otherwise, he’s just a dog at heart: sleeping, eating, glad to see you, wondering what’s in it for him and wondering when do we eat?
Oliver dog (or dawg)
He’s settled down in his Manhattan life although one night I was talking to JH on the phone about the next morning’s Diary and Oliver went over to JH sitting at his desk, looked up at him with that old “sometimes I’d-like-to-bust-out” look, and lifted his leg on JH’s leg. Yes! Uh-huh! Really! JH was mindblown! And he yelled at the guy: Oliver!!! And he reprimanded him with serious, severe words. And he remained incredulous.
He knew that Oliver knew exactly what he was doing. JH just didn’t know exactly what Oliver knew. But O got a serious talking to. And another walk (that wasn’t overdue). And he’s behaved himself since then. And it is pretty funny when you think about it. Actually I laughed about it as I was witnessing it telephonically. It is funny, when you imagine it. Just the look on JH’s face must have been worth a million laughs! Omigod or what? It’s a dog’s life.
I was going to write about some of the people in the pictures at the ARF party and what I know about them and their love for the animals. Frances Hayward, for example, with her little Amigo whom she adopted in the Bahamas and has turned into a philanthropic dog raising funds for other little Amigos. But that’s another story for another time. You must be dogged out by now.
However, don’t forget all those wonderful people at ARF and the all abovementioned organizations who lend a heart and lend a hand so we can all get a little bit of what it’s like to feel loved. Send them a buck or a twenty or c-note or pile on the “0’s” and make a few hearts burst with the joy of the four-legged ones.
Anait Bian and Art Larson
Lisa McCarthy and Katrina
Ellen Scarborough, Don Burns, Greg Connors, and Hershey
L. to r.: Mickie Siebert with Virgil and Betty Sherrill; Lauren Larken and Renee Lucas.
Christopher Robbins and Jackie Rogers
Marcello DeLuca, Jennifer Condren, Chris Bargas, Jennifer Gerstel Ringelstein, Jeffrey Ringelstein, and Lori Greene
Shane Diekman and Tisha Collette
Same Saturday night in Southampton, over on Duck Pond Lane, at the home of Carole and Todd Rome they held the second annual Red Cross Ball. Cocktails at 7. Dinner at 8, award presentation as well as the musical stylings and live entertainment from Andy Hilfiger’s X-Brothers. Tables started at $50,000 for the Clara Barton tables (of ten). They sold out. In fact, this was, someone told me, the only “sold out” event of the Hamptons this season.
Todd Rome whose company Blue Star Jets was the primary sponsor of this year’s event said: “Experts anticipate one of the worst hurricane seasons in history this year. God forbid something should happen, I want the Red Cross to be in position to help the community.” All proceeds from the evening will go to the Suffolk county chapter of the Red Cross.
L. to r.: Bobby and Jill Zarin, Kathy and Rick Hilton, and Carol and Todd Rome; Dolly Lenz and Catherine Saxton.
Denise and Larry Wohl with Carol and Todd Rome
Bobby and Jill Zarin with Iris and Michael Smith
Larry Wohl, Dottie Herman, and Harold Lorber
Fred and Jacqueline Stahl, Dr. Georgia Witkin, and Michael Tadross
Under the tent
Dee Ocleppo and Tommy Hilfiger
Members of the Elvis White Band
Judy Murphy, Ricky Sitomer with a friend, and Erica Kasel
Dawn Tropeano, Sheila Rosenblum, Diane Amarosa, and Bill Miller
Sandy and Larry Rosenthal with Dr.Howard Sobel
Princess Yasmin Aga Kahn and Christopher Jeffries
Catherine Saxton holds court
Christine, Dan Rattiner, and Jimmy Finkelstein
Danny Lane, Jill Zarin, Stewart Perlman, and Amanda Pustlinick
Steven and Michelle Boxer
Marla and Alan Helene
Todd, Skylar, Jessica, and Carol Rome
Bob Roberts and Lauren Day
Todi Constantiner, Michelle Rella, Lucia Hwong Gordon, and Jade Barrymore
Paola and Arnie Rosenshein
Ahmad Rashad and Sale Johnson
L. to r.: The Elvis White Band and kids; Bobby Campbell and Barbara Zangrilli.