The Dusty Keyboard

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years sincegoodnewsforpets first crackled in the electric vapor.Holy Plasma Screen! It’s older than my computer. Imagine. My “”new””ThinkPad is old enough to be embedded with the dusty exhaust ofManhattan’s electrostatic air. Not only is my laptop becomingprehistoric, it’s more than two years old, so is everything else,or so it seems. NOT! This great site has become more than just apit stop on the information highway. It seems to me to be as vital,as vigorous, and even more useful than before. It is a destinationrather than a mere stop along the way.

When you need backgrounders and research content about dogs,cats, and all the aspects of that involvement this is the place tofind it. We’ve got pet news, columns, press releases, announcementsand a lot that the dog and cat writer needs for work. It’s also forcurious and involved pet owners. Needless to say, I am happy to bea part of it all.

I wish I had been in from the beginning, as was Steve Dale, butI shouldn’t complain. Thanks to him I met Lea-Ann Germinder, whosebrainchild this was, and who invited me to participate with acolumn. I signed on in the autumn of 2001 thanks to my good friend,Steve. Sadly enough, fate has chiseled into my brain the memory ofwriting my first column because it came shortly after the attack onthe World Trade Towers, which happened a little over a mile fromwhere I lived and seemed as if it were just outside my terrace. Thecolumn was about that horror in relation to the dogs in myneighborhood fading out of sight for a while. Here is a brief quotefrom that column titled, “”Paw Prints in the Dust””:

One of my pleasures each morning is watching my neighborsfrom the terrace of my little Greenwich Village apartment as theygive their dogs their morning stroll. I stand near the ledge, sipcoffee and sometimes talk to a friend on my cordless phone. I liveon Charles Street just two blocks up from the Hudson River andabout two miles north of the financial district. If Paris is theCity of Lights certainly, New York is the City of Dogs. Perhaps amillion of them live here. Across the street are two Welsh Terriersowned by a very successful painter and next door to her is a womanwith two majestic white Standard Poodles. Next door to my buildingis a young Boxer, as frisky as a teenager full of himself. Dogs areeverywhere up and down the block, around the corner and on everystreet. But in an instant last Tuesday morning the dogs and theirowners disappeared along with the World Trade Towers. Everyoneseemed to go home and they took their dogs with them. The streetpoles and fire hydrants went un-serviced. . .

. . . Anyway, traffic is now flowing south in Manhattanagain, at least as far as Canal Street, and the Village came alivethis Sunday afternoon. People were in the restaurants and sidewalkcafes. But the best sign of renewal was the sight of people walkingtheir dogs again. But you know what? Those dogs are getting a lotmore attention than usual. I see many people hugging them, talkingto them, and looking very proud. There are several hundred rescuedogs working deep inside “”The Hole”” and everyone knows this,especially the dog owners. Nobody is working harder than the rescuedogs. Everyone is proud of them./p>

As for everyone else here in Manhattan, we are still standingand holding our place and I feel very close to Americans everywheretonight. We are connected. We really are one people, onefamily.

Among my many pleasures as a dog and cat writer is anticipatingthe Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.February is when it happens. Some of my friends sit in our favoritecoffee shop and look out the windows of the French doors in thelate afternoon and try to figure out how much more daylight we haveeach day as we hope for spring. Others look forward to springtraining in Florida starting up getting the next baseball seasongoing. As I said, for me, the anticipated pleasure is the coming ofWestminster and all the satellite events surrounding it. From mycolumn, “”A Midwinter Night’s Dream,”” which appeared ingoodnewsforpets in 2003?

. . . Like the answer to a prayer, Westminster turned amidwinter night’s dream into an exciting reality. There were roarsand high-pitched yowls booming from Madison Square Garden thatdrowned out the subway running underneath. It was a canine rockconcert. In 30 years, I only missed the Westminster Week one timeand that was because they locked the door to my hospital room. Whatwould life be like without the Super Bowl, the World Series, theKentucky Derby or the Westminster Dog Show? These cherishedsporting events represent the cream of American pop culture and areenjoyed everywhere. In the world of dogs, Westminster is likeplaying the Palace; it is the big time. These are dogs onBroadway.

Although this, the most glamorous benched dog show in theworld, takes up two days and two nights, there were so many thingsto see and do before those 2500+ beauties woofed and wagged theirway into the record books. Most importantly, there were tenNational (or Regional Specialty shows one or two days before theWestminster show. Like planets around the sun, some were held atthe Meadowlands in New Jersey (across the river and close toManhattan) and in a few hotels near Madison Square Garden. Theseare important dog shows with only one breed competing that aresponsored by their national parent club. For some, winning anational specialty is far more satisfying than winning atWestminster, unless of course we’re talking about Best In Show atthe Garden. The specialty shows in and around Manhattan just beforeWestminster were for the Shiba Inu, Papillon, Petite Basset GriffonVendeen (PBGV), American Chinese Crested, Bulldog, English Setter,Gordon Setter, Pekingese and the Yorkshire Terrier.[for theyear 2003]

And oh my, there were the parties and formal evening events.The Westminster Week, which usually begins on Friday and wraps upat the Dog Fanciers Luncheon in Sardi’s the following Wednesday,requires suitcases jammed with tuxedos, shimmering gowns, expensiveshoes, jewelry, dark suits and dressy dresses. If you cannot get aninvitation to one of the hot events then you make your own party,and believe me, there were plenty of those in the hotel roomsspilling out into the hallways, nightclubs, restaurants and even inthe Broadway theatres. The canine corporate world was wellrepresented at their own events days before the show. Pedigree,Nature’s Recipe, Iams and Science Diet dog food (among others) allhad highly touted evening affairs, the invitations to which werehard to come by. There were fabulous parties at Tavern-on-TheGreen, a sumptuous restaurant on the edge of Central Park (inthirty years I have yet to be invited to that one). . . But, that’sshow biz.

The big event this year is the Dog Writers Association ofAmerica’s 70th Anniversary annual writing competitionawards banquet taking place on the Sunday evening before the dogshow at the Garden. And then the next day, the National Anthem isplayed at eight am in Madison Square Garden, ushering in theWestminster Kennel Club’s 129th Annual Dog Show, for a two-daycanine frappe.

For me the best social event happens on Friday night. I’mtalking about the Hill’s Science Diet Winners Circle Awards Dinner,black tie and gowns, and by special invitation only. I guess I likeit best because I am its Master of Ceremonies and enjoy being theringmaster, making it all work, like a traffic cop. The best partis looking out at the splendid audience from the lectern, all veryactive, very important dog show people.

This, their eighteenth annual dinner, will be another rarifiedevent because it takes place in a sweet ballroom at the jazzyMarriott Marquis Hotel, in the heart of Broadway. It will be jammedto capacity with the crème de la crème of the dog show world, youknow, the people who develop the great dogs and then show them atthe Garden after a tough year of campaigning them around thecountry. The top ten dogs of the year and their owners, handlersand veterinarians are paid tribute to with videotapes, music andawards. We always expect the next Westminster winner to be one ofthe honored ten. It is a reasonable expectation because thesewinners will have defeated more competitors in 2004 than all othersin hundreds of dog shows. What a treat, and a very difficult ticketto come by. I believe that the only reason I get to go is because IMC the affair. It’s the one time of the year I get to wear mytuxedo. Keep your fingers crossed that it still fits.


The Dog Days of February

Friday, February 11th, 2005 " Eighteenth AnnualHill’s Science Diet Winners Circle Awards. Marriott Marquis Hotel,New York City. MC will be yours truly, Mordecai Siegal.

Sunday, February 13th, 2005 " 70thAnniversary dinner of the Dog Writers Association of America,Writing Competition Awards. Southgate Towers Hotel, New YorkCity.

Monday, Tuesday, February 14 & 15th, 2005 "129th Annual Dog Show of the Westminster Kennel Club.Madison Square Garden, New York City.

Mordecai Siegal’s newest book is, “”The Cat Fanciers’Association COMPLETE CAT BOOK. The Official Publication of theCFA,”” published by HarperCollins. It is a reference work comparableto the American Kennel Club Complete Dog Book. His most durablebooks are “”Good Dog, Bad Dog (Henry Holt),”” “”When Good Dogs Do BadThings (Little, Brown),”” the 10th Anniversary Revised Edition of “”IJust Got A Puppy. What Do I Do? (Simon & Schuster),”” “”TheCornell Book of Cats, Second Edition (Villard),”” “”The Davis Book ofDogs (HarperCollins),”” “”The Davis Book of Horses (HarperCollins).””He is President Emeritus of the Dog Writers Association of Americaand a founding member of The Cat Writers’ Association.


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