Friday, June 1, 2018

Dog Stories

Always on call. Photo: JH.
Friday, June 1, 2018.  Rainy days and cooler (mid-to-high 60s) in New York.

Today I’m going to talk about dogs. And cats. I have dogs, as some readers know. And JH has cats. He’s had dogs too. We both share an allegiance to those organizations that look after the animals. And the children. The animals and the children are what we should all be worrying about. They need us, and because of that we NEED them.

I’ve had dogs and cats all my life. The first dog was Brownie. I didn’t know her history; she was already there when I arrived. I only knew that when she was gone, I didn’t notice for a couple of days (I was about ten). When I asked my mother where Brownie was, she told me that they had to put her to sleep because she had some problems.  And I started to cry; my first mourning. My mother was of that generation that when an animal had a problem, you put it to sleep. No matter the problem. There were vets in those days, and they weren’t nearly as expensive (even close) as they are today. But people often used them only for euthanizing.
Rum Rum comfortably ensconced on the sofa on Doheny Drive in LA. Rum was a sweet little Jack Russell who later moved with me to New York.
I didn’t have any pets from my late teens into my mid-20s. After I was married we had a dog because my wife wanted a beagle like she’d had as a kid. We got one. A very difficult case. For us young marrieds, completely wrapped up in ourselves. The dog, Nemo, was living with a difficult master(s). Eventually Nemo went to live with friends in Washington. We were glad to get rid of him. Only because he took some work. (Not that we didn't have a few minutes a day to spare.)  It required an effort outside ourselves. After that we had cats. Cats that had kittens. When I moved to Los Angeles in the late ‘70s to pursue a career as a writer, I took one dog and five cats with me.

Every animal I’ve owned in my adult life has a story. Either a story that he or she comes with, or a story I’ve imagined. I “rescue” these guys who come to live with me. I don’t consider it a rescue as much as to simply give them a home. And enhance my own life. When people hear about it, first thing -- and maybe the only thing -- they say is: “that’s a lotta work.” I know what they mean although “lotta work” it really isn’t time-wise. It takes me about fifteen minutes to feed the dogs – fill their bowls, etc. twice a day. And another twenty to thirty minutes to walk them twice a day. They have wee-wee pads also. 
My current troupe: Tobey (ex-Bide-a-Wee), Lilttle Willy, and Rosemary (the boss) from the Humane Society.
My little guy Ray, who came from ARF (via a kill shelter in South Carolina).
So that totals up to maybe an hour and a half a day for the basic caring. It does require effort and energy. But what I’ve learned at this time in my now long life is that the gift is in the caring. That hour and a half isn’t about ME.  It’s about THEM. And the energy I expend for them is the satisfaction, the knowing I’m providing a safe healthy home for these lives who always demonstrate their affection (wanting attention) which inspires it in me.

I’ve learned through these “friends” that how you feel about another life is the pleasure of love.  So even when they can drive me nuts (sort of), or when I don’t feel like feeding and walking them, or I don’t feel like playing “fetch” with them, or when they compete against each other for a few little pets from me, I realize I’m part of their lives – not the whole part – and it’s very rewarding. They’re purer than we are, and in many ways a whole lot smarter. And tolerant.

All that to leads into telling you about The Animal Medical Center's 10th Annual Living Legends Luncheon to honor companion animals — Mack and Callie — who survived seemingly insurmountable health challenges because of their owners’ love and commitment, along with the exceptional care and treatment they received from the specialty veterinarians at AMC’s Integrative and Rehabilitation Medicine, Neurology and Surgery Services.

Kathy Rayner, Robert Liberman, Lisa Schiff, Emilia Krimendahl, Donna Acquavella and Ellen Marcus were among the nearly 200 guests. All  of them have animals. Kathy Rayner who rescues — five or six, last I heard. She can’t resist. I totally understand. Shih-tzus among them, but not all. Lisa and David Schiff have always had dogs, and more than one, and so has Emilia — although she has only one right now. Dogs are good for children. Children know this. You can see it in the interest on their faces when they pass by the dogs on the sidewalk.

Dogs keep everyone grounded, even if it’s only for the time they’re with them. Cats, too, incidentally. City life, any life, can distract us from that groundedness. They’re the antidote. It all adds up.

The AMC luncheon was co-chaired by Dorothy Goldstein, Alison Minton, Kane Nussbaum, Joanne Ronson, Carol Sandow, Petra Slater, Helene Stein, Marquam Wolfe, and Janet York
Kate Coyne, Gibson Craig, and Dr. Pamela Schwartz with Mack
Dr. JP McCue, Kate Coyne, and Dr. Sarah Timm with Callie
The first Jackie Santi Flaherty Award for Courage was presented posthumously at the event. Established by AMC Trustee Tina Santi Flaherty in memory of her beloved dog Jackie, this special award will be given annually to a pet who has shown remarkable courage throughout treatment at AMC.  That’s another thing. Animals exemplify courage. They exemplify the opposite, not to mention doubt. They keep in touch with us more than we do with ourselves. That’s a plus to have around house and keep your sanity at times.

AMC is the world’s largest non-profit animal hospital with 100+ veterinarians providing the highest quality medical care across 17 specialties. AMC’s pioneering clinical research advances veterinary knowledge, its education programs train the next generation of veterinary leaders and provide pet owners with quality pet health information.
Carol Sandow, Janet York, Dorothy Goldstein, Joanne Ronson, Alison Minton, and Kate Coyne
Donna Acquavella, Emilia Krimendahl, and Kate Coyne
Kate Coyne and Lisa Schiff
Kathleen Giordano, Jack Lynch, and Dr. Penny Grant
Alison Minton and Cristina Sabatini
Dennis Freedman and  Tina Santi Flaherty
Lela Larned, Gibson Craig with Mack, Dr. Pamela Schwartz, Kate Coyne, Dr. Sarah Timm with Callie, Dr. John McCue, and Melinda Luke
One more dog story, and you may conclude that I’m crazy (and that's okay according to my dogs). Years ago, in the mid-'70s I had a business up in Pound Ridge, New York. It was a retail outlet and I had a staff of three women who worked for me. One morning one of the women came in about an hour late. She explained that a stray dog, but a very sweet dog had come to her house. He was a great big friendly mutt and he needed to be fed and obviously needed a home — he was very scruffy looking. She couldn’t keep him because she had another dog (her reasoning), so she called the ASPCA to pick him up. She waited until an hour had passed, and she knew she needed to get to work. So she locked the guy in her garage, hoping they’d find him there.

I solved the problem by going to wait for the ASPCA. Which I did. When I got out of my car in her driveway, the dog was standing on his hind legs looking out the garage door window, and barking.  It was a gentle bark, almost a whimper. He was a big guy with the mane of a chow and the head and body of a shepherd.

Rexy and me, North Stamford, Ct., 1976.
On first sight I said something to myself that I had never said or thought before or since. It just came to me on sight of dog. “That’s my father,” I said to myself, “and I have to take him.”

My father had died about a little more than year before. He was 73 and had had a long illness on top of all his troubles. It had been a hard, difficult life from early on. He had also visited a lot of those difficulties on others close to him. I had no sympathy for him until the very end. Much later on I saw him as a man. This dog provided the clues for my understanding and empathy. I have never experienced that sense of life before or since.

So I opened the garage door and petted the dog. He looked like he’d been a stray for a long time. He was dirty and his fur was unkempt and matted, but he was friendly immediately, and very glad to be there with me. He stayed right by my side.

I walked over to my car, and opened the door. He jumped right in, and I took him home. I named him Rex. Rexy Rexido. A vet, after giving him a “physical” determined that he might have been a junkyard dog who’d escaped because he had bloody wounds around his neck, and that he was about a year old. Rex moved to California with me.
Rex and Snowball, at home in Brentwood, California, 1979.
More dog stories, etc. Delia Goes to Millbrook.  Last weekend, Delia von Neuschatz, our esteemed beauty writer was a guest of Nina Griscom at her weekend home in picturesque Millbrook. 

Nina is a great hostess and loves her guests. She also had two dogs who love her guests. For Delia, it was a perfect opportunity to curl up and relax one last time before the sizzling summer weather takes over. 

Under the circumstances we asked her to model something from us from the Peruvian Collection, the shop on Columbus Avenue and 76th Street who is a new advertiser for the NYSD. Having been in the business myself, I find I have an almost nostalgic feeling about the shop. They have great looking clothes, great quality and workmanship, and amazing prices. Even better, they are currently having their big semi-annual sale right now.

The photoshoot turned out to be more challenging than expected because of Nina’s adorable pups. Adorabilities, I call them; they just wanted to get in on the picture, as well as get a little love and affection from a very nice lady who’d come to visit.
1.-3. Delia trying to reason with Nina's German Shorthaired Pointer, Pancho. 4. Sharing the love with Nina's Scotty, Violet, too.
So, what's Delia Wearing? Peruvian Connection Ryder Pants in Storm Blue ($199.00) paired with PC's Pima Cotton Draftsman Pullover styled with flared side panels, slim sleeves and chunky ribbed trim at the cuffs and cut-out hem ($89.00-$118.00).

Finally after the hugs and pets on the floor before the fireplace, Delia got to relax and show the whole ensemble without her new pals a-pawin’.
Peruvian Connection's Ryder Pants in Storm blue ($199.00) and Pima Cotton Draftsman Pullover ($89.00-$118.00).

Contact DPC here.