Raining dogs and cats

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021.  Warmer yesterday in New York with the temps in the high 40s and low 50s and lots of sunshine to brighten up our day. The weatherman at this writing (10:30 pm) is predicting snow for later this evening leaving a covering of an inch of the white stuff. Well, it is that time of the year; or at least it used to be.

Today’s Diary is about the animals, inspired by the news coming our way. For example, the Animal Medical Center (AMC), the world’s largest non-profit animal hospital, announced a $25 million gift from Stephen and Christine Schwarzman that will support the 37,000 square foot expansion and renovation of the hospital. With the Schwarzman’s unprecedented donation to both AMC and the field of veterinary care, AMC’s ‘Gift of Love’ campaign has reached $85 million of its $100 million goal.

AMC Chairman Robert Liberman, Christine Schwarzman, Stephen Schwarzman, and AMC President & CEO Kathryn Coyne.

The late Brooke Astor, who was a dog-lover and a major supporter of the AMC, once said if anything went wrong with her health, she wanted to go to the Animal Medical Center so great was their care and diagnosis.

The ‘Gift of Love’ Capital Campaign will create 11,000 square feet of new space and renovate 26,000 SF of existing space to create room for new and expanded services and increased patient demand.

Megan Hearst, AMC CEO Kathryn Coyne, Christine Schwarzman, Stephen Schwarzman, AMC Chairman Robert Liberman, and Amy Stursberg.

There were others providing major support for the campaign including $5 million gifts from Elaine Langone, Kathy Rayner, Emilia Saint-Amand Krimendahl, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Chris and Bruce Crawford, as well as donations from hundreds across New York City and beyond.

Learn more at: www.amcny.org/giftoflove.

Stephen Schwarzman, Christine Schwarzman, Elaine Langone, Marianne C. Mebane, Lisa Schiff, Libby McCarthy, and Emilia Saint-Amand Krimendahl.
AMC Chairman Robert Liberman, Christine Schwarzman, NYPD K9 Rett, Stephen Schwarzman, Elaine Langone, Marianne C. Mebane, Lisa Schiff, NYPD K9 McCue, AMC President & CEO Kathryn Coyne, and Megan Hearst.

Then there’s the Tri-County Animal Rescue which honored Sir Darius Brown, who is the founder of Beaux & Paws, and presented him with the Young Leadership Award at a luncheon hosted by Andrea Stark, Janna Bullock, Jean Shafiroff and Adrien Arpel at Mrs. Stark’s gorgeous penthouse.

Jean Shafiroff, Janna Bullock, Andrea Stark, Sir Darius Brown

Midway through the luncheon, Andrea took the floor to thank everyone for attending, before sitting with honoree Sir Darius Brown to begin a Q&A session. During the Q&A, Sir Darius stated, “I realized if people look really great in bow ties why can’t dogs and cats? So, after donating my bow ties to my first animal shelter — the ASPCA in New York, I realized that if dogs stay in shelters for too long, they can be euthanized and that really hurt me because I never knew, and I should have.” He continued, “I felt that I needed to do something to spread awareness and now I have made it my mission to help as many dogs and cats around the world as possible.”

After the Q&A, Andrea presented Sir Darius with a beautiful London Jewelers watch from President and animal advocate Candy Udell, who could not be in attendance, and the Tri-County Rescue’s Young Leadership Award for his unwavering commitment to helping animals.

There were 30 guests at the intimate luncheon including Allison Monaco, Andrea Warshaw-Wernick, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Helene Kaye Kaplan, John Stark, Joy Brown, Kathy Gantz, Liliana Cavendish, Maria Fishel, Pamela Morgan, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Sharon Bush and Wendy Diamond. All guests received beauty gifts to take home from co-chair Adrien Arpel.

Tri-County Animal Rescue is a 100% No-Kill, 501(c)3, nonprofit animal shelter working to prevent the killing of over 170,000 unwanted pets in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties each year. Since their inception, they have saved over 68k domestic animals from being euthanized.

For more information about Tri-County Animal Rescue and the upcoming Peppermint Bark & Brunch benefit,  visit https://tricountyanimalrescue.com/

L. to r.: Flo Anthony; Rita Cosby and Tomaczek Bedmarek.
L. to r.: Helene Kaye Kaplan and Caroline Srybnik; Joan Schorsch and Arlene Reed.
Phyllis Berman, John Stark, and Oshri Endzweig.
L. to r.: Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia and Liliana Cavendish; Marlene Brown and Kathy Gantz.
L. to r.: Vidal Venbasat and Sherry Miller; Marge Russell and Karen Cammaker.
L. to r.: Sharon Bush, Maria Fishel, and Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin; Julie Sagoskin.

And straight from animal lover (& NYSD contributor) Lee Fryd: Susan Cushing loves throwing themed dress parties. For the cocktails, dubbed Animal Spirits, she and Hunter Cushing hosted at their Park Avenue home,  we were advised: “Leopard, Zebra, Tiger, Dalmation prints encouraged.”

I first learned about American Humane from strong supporters Lois Pope and Gail Worth in Palm Beach. Now there will be a Palm Beach Sanctuary for American Humane. And the Foundation continues their drive to bring retired Military Working Dogs home from overseas, often pairings them, as service dogs, with veterans.

Raffles and Wylie Cushing.

LolaBelle was invited, but did not attend. To make up for that, I returned with the story of her drug of choice (besides CBD) Advantix. Those are the little drops that go between her shoulder blades and stand between Lola, me and Lyme disease, by killing fleas and ticks when they bite.

In fact, it was American Humane Chair John Payne, who led the Bayer Animal Health Division, to develop both advantage — for fleas — and Advantix, for fleas and ticks. Advantix protects for four weeks. One misguided summer, I was one week late in reapplying. That’s how I learned about nymph ticks, which are not as fun as they sound. One step in their nest brought home hundreds.

Lola was peeved that I took Lola to CAFÉ BOULUD at the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach, but declined Susan Cushing’s special invite for Lola to attend.

How does Advantix kill the tiny critters without killing the dog? “It allows that liquid to go from head to tail through the fatty layer right under the skin so it never enters the bloodstream,” John told me. “It’s very safe.  Prior to that there were only organic phosphates on the market which were nothing but poisons going into the bloodstream.”

Payne was also CEO and Founder of Pet Health Innovations, LLC, President and CEO of Medical Management International, Inc, President and Chief Executive Officer of Banfield, The Pet Hospital and more.

And now you know!

Susan Cushing, Kathy Prounis with Wylie Cushing, Marilyn Pelstring, and John Payne.
L. to r.: John Molina and David Levy; Samantha Haywood and Kristen Swenson.
Paola Bacchini, Susan Cushing, and Robin Ganzert.

I’ve had dogs and cats all my life. Always rescued only because there are so many that need homes and filling that need was the motivation, knowing the pleasure of their company. When I was in my early 20s, and married, we adopted a kitten from a friend’s cat litter and from her (who was named Lewis) more came. If we couldn’t find homes, we kept them.

When in my thirties, a woman who worked for me was late one day explaining that a “beautiful” stray dog had  come to her house. She couldn’t give it a home and so she called the ASPCA to come for him, and had waited more than an hour and had to go to work. So she put the dog in her garage to wait there. Hearing about it, I volunteered to go and wait for them.

When I arrived in her driveway, the dog was standing on his hind legs looking out of the garage window barking at me. He was a beautiful big mutt with a reddish coat and the head of a shepherd. On sight, the voice in my head said: “that’s my father; and I have to take him.” My father had died a year earlier. I hadn’t thought of him in those terms, but the thought affirmed it, and I opened my car door for him, then freed him from the garage and he ran to the car and got in. I named him Rex (or Rexy) and he came to live with me and five cats.

Rexy talking to Snowball in Los Angeles.

When I took him to a vet to have him checked out, he had wounds around his neck and the vet determined that he was probably a junkyard dog who’d been chained and had escaped. He determined that he was no more than a year old. He was a great dog, friendly and obedient and right at home with the felines in residence. He was also an excellent watchdog. A few years later all of us moved to California where I began my life as a writer.

In the first couple of years in LA I lived with a friend who had Jack Russells. It was while living with her that I met a Shih Tzu named Tiger who was also homeless; and he too joined the family. After Tiger died, coincidentally another Shih Tzu showed up at my door one day. He had a named tag: Polo, with a phone number.

His owner was a talent agent who lived nearby. I drove the dog over to his house. The dog stayed in the car when the owner opened his door and said to me: “Do you wanna dog?” “Yes,” was my answer. What could I say. Polo was nine years old. When he died three years later, I called a dog rescue and got another Shih Tzu, a one-year-old female whom I named Mrs. FaFa (don’t ask).

Relaxing with the canines in Beverly Hills — Sparkie, (the eldest), Sweet Pea (under my arm), Polo (under my right hand), and Rum Rum under my foot.

FaFa was a biter — which I had been warned about but took her knowing no one would want her. The first night at home, there was an earthquake in the middle of the night. FaFa had been sleeping in a corner of my bedroom. I jumped out of bed to get her and she bit me. It was barely a scratch but I saw that she was instantly remorseful and afraid — ready for the punishment. I carefully petted her and saw that that had relaxed her.

In the future, I kept my hands away from her face and always petted her coat and backside. FaFa moved to New York with me and Rum Rum and another pup whom someone threw away named Boyzie-woyzie (who came from Bide-a-Wee). Rum lived 14 years.

Rum Rum accompanying me while I read.
Polo often annoyed Rum, who wasn’t pleased.

After that I was in the habit of immediately adopting another Shih Tzu from someone who complained that she had too much energy. Her name was Missy. I called her Madam because she dominated the pack. And when she died (at 13), I called the Humane Society and asked if they had any Shih Tzus. Yes, they had two.

I’ll take them I replied. And when I went to pick them up, they were waiting for me outside the office. They were not Shih Tzus. They weren’t even slightly resembling; they were out-and-out mutts. I took them anyway, and they are living with us five years later — Willie and Rosemary.

Tobie (from Bide-a-Wee), Willie, and Rosemary (from Humane Society).

A year later a friend of mine saw a photo from ARF of yet another Shih Tzu, a 12-year-old named Ray, who was rescued from a kill shelter in South Carolina. The friend remarked, “I suppose you’re going to rescue Ray.” And so I did. Ray is now going on 18. He’s an old guy now, sleeps almost all the time but is still well-trained, eats heartily and is very disciplined about peeing and eliminating.

Little Ray, at his new home, age 12.

There are four canines now in residence. They are my family. Dogs (and cats) are all great companions and very sensitive  and intelligent. They can measure your mood and know how to adjust. But they respond positively to kindness and affection. I have learned at this late age of a life living with dogs (and cats) that the great pleasure is the feeling of love I have for all of them. They know this; and that is always the reward. It is love.

Photographs by Sylvain Gaboury /PMC (Tri-County)

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