The Stacks

Because of low metabolism, it takes me more than an hour each morning for the blurry sleep to burn off like fog and open my eyelids. To put it mildly, I’m not sharp first thing in the morning. It takes strong coffee (2 jiggers Columbian to 1 jigger espresso) to give me a jolt from one large, flavorful mug; that and clicking the remote from the Today Show to the CBS Morning Show to Good Morning America to CNN and out of desperation to Imus.

Once the gauze dissolves from my eyelashes, I look in the direction of my desk to see what’s waiting for me. Oh, my God, there are always stacks and stacks of stuff piled to the top of the computer quietly screaming for my attention. There’s unopened mail, bills to be paid, review copies of books to look over, finishing touches on a manuscript, email to read and delete and, oh yeah, writing to be done. That’s when I pour the Cheerios.

Life was much neater when I was married. I lived much more by the ritual of necessity, you know, help get the kids off to school, gulp down breakfast with the good woman, wave goodbye at the door to everyone, and dive into my work. The morning ritual sure got things done including many, many books and columns. Now, I do what I have to do by sheer force of will. It’s hard to get myself to turn off the TV and go to work, especially when the stacks seem higher than ever.

Babes In Toyland

Small Dogs Big Hearts

At the top of today’s stack is a book that came in last June that I like very much and since I sat next to its author, Darlene Arden at the “Meet the Authors” tent of the Greenwich Kennel Club Dog Show, having had the best time, it’s no chore to tell you about her book.

Darlene is a lot of fun to hang out with on a very windy afternoon and she is as interesting a person as her new book is, Small Dogs, Big Hearts: A Guide to Caring For Your Little Dog, published by Howell Book House/Wiley (paperback, $19.95). The photo of a long-coated Chihuahua on the front jacket makes it impossible to walk by without picking it up. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a sucker for a tiny dog with a big-guy look in his eyes but the colors and the dog and the eyes, oh those arrogant large eyes, are compelling. It’s a beautiful cover with a caramel custard dog staring right at you.

What is really useful is the fact that this is not a book for those who own official AKC designated toy breeds exclusively. It is for “little dogs” and that means size, not pedigree. The writing is wonderfully easy on the eyes and you just inhale it all like a pouch of gourmet Stroganoff for pampered dogs. The writing is sweet, charming, humorous and truly informative, just like a toy dog. The first ten chapters are all about caring for your mighty mite from newborns to puppies, from housetraining to nutrition and to all things medical. The information is solid and reliable and most importantly, tailored for toys. But wait, friends, there’s more. There’s Chapter 11, aptly titled “Breed by Breed” and this for me is the heart of the book and reason enough to own it.

Darlene Arden
Darlene Arden and friends. Photo by Lisa Croft-Elliott.

If your taste is for a canine Lilliputian and you could use some help in the selection process then has Ms. Arden got a treat for you. In Chapter 11 there are presented in alphabetical order 30 specific pedigreed breeds, twenty pounds or under, with a helpful description of each. You can learn about each breed’s physical characteristics, its personality, concise history, and it’s grooming requirements. This book proves that great things can come in little packages. Size does matter!

Welcome To Charlotte

I am not referring to that wise and wonderful spider who comforts an anxiety-ridden pig in the immortal children’s story, Charlotte’s Web. Nor am I referring to that great city in North Carolina, or the author Bronte who gave us Jane Eyre. I am referring to Charlotte Reed, pet expert, who seems to be exploding everywhere on the pet scene with columns in such diverse publications as Cat Fancy, NY Dog, Pet Business and various other publications throughout the U.S. and abroad. You may have caught one of her frequent appearances on ABC’s The View or on some other TV show around the country. Man, she’s hot.

Charlotte Reed
Charlotte Reed (3rd from left.) with the Abdo Family of Thayer and Ridge.

It was Charlotte Reed, however, who threw this summer’s most “in” party helping to inaugurate the first annual Pet Fashion Week in Manhattan on August 19. Although the trade show was a big success and garnered all the attention it deserved, it was Charlotte Reed’s cocktail soiree the night before in exotic Chinatown that was the hottest event of that week. With such sponsors as Martini & Rossi who provided unique cocktails, Hollywood Dog, New York Dog, Pet Business (Charlotte writes for all three), the Pet Elite (a high-end pet product publication), W Hotels, and Nutro (pet food) it was a big deal event that put a big smile on the faces of those lucky enough to be invited.

You had to step down into a dark, dangerous-looking Chinatown joint with the contradictory name Double Happiness, on exotic Mott Street to get into the catacomb-like hang out. Just for the record, it used to be an authentic “speakeasy” during prohibition.

Julie Abdo.jpg
Julie Abdo, owner of Thayer and Ridge with Jennifer Juergens, PR for Sherpa.

It was dark and dank inside with more atmosphere than an old subway station in Brooklyn. To Charlotte’s credit, though, it was not only packed to capacity, it was a jumping experience, with more talk and business going on than anyplace uptown in the glass and oak establishments. The music blasted, drinks poured from the bar like drinks from a bar, and many, many out-of-town pet folks lit up when they recognized familiar faces. I sat at a corner table with author/editor, Beth Adelman (columnist for the NY Post) and Jennifer Kushnier of Adams Media, editor of Charlotte’s forthcoming book, “Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette. The Definitive Guide to Pet Manners.”

Gail Miller, AKC and David Frei, Westminster KC.

As an author I was impressed that Ms. Kushnier came all the way to Chinatown from Boston to support her prized author. Also having a great time were John Carigilio from Nutro, Craig Rexford (Pet Business), Carol Boker (Pet Product News), Michael Dagney of Moochie and Co., owner of eight pet stores, Gayle Martz (Sherpa), Bonita Lynch and Alice Rao from the Bravo Channel, Catherine Metzer (Planet Dog), and representatives from Good Housekeeping, Rolling Stone, and Family Circle. I found myself mingling with David Frei, Westminster’s Director of Public Relations, and AKC’s Gail Miller, Director of Brand Development along, with Beth Adelman and Jennifer Kushnier.

Lion Dancers.

The conversations all stopped at the sound of arrhythmic drums, cymbals, and some kind of weird music wafting down from the sidewalk, upstairs. Many of us climbed the cellar steps to the street. What a treat. It was an authentic, colorful dragon dance performed in front of the speakeasy out on the sidewalk. It was one of Charlotte’s brilliant ideas to arrange this since it is the Chinese Year of the Dog, which was the inspiration for the insy blast. If you peeked under the dragon costume, you could see three teenagers performing like the old vaudeville horse routine. And, everyone went home with fabulous doggie goodie bags loaded with really good stuff.

In what was a fairly uneventful summer, this was a rare treat for which we were all grateful to the indomitable Ms. Reed who brightened up my August and the entire Pet Fashion Week. Now all you have to do is get on her email list and receive her weekly newsletter, Charlotte Webb. Send her an email at and tell her you want to get on her newsletter list.

“I Just Got a Kitten. What Do I Do?” (Simon & Schuster/Fireside) is Mordecai Siegal’s latest book and is available wherever books are sold. He is also the author of “The Cat Fanciers’ Association COMPLETE CAT BOOK. The Official Publication of the CFA,” (HarperCollins), comparable to the AKC’s Complete Dog Book; “The Good Life: Your Dog’s First Year” (Simon and Schuster). His most durable books are “Good Dog, Bad Dog” (Henry Holt); “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things” (Little, Brown); the 10th Anniversary Revised Edition of “I Just Got A Puppy. What Do I Do?” (Simon & Schuster/Fireside); “The Cornell Book of Cats” (Villard); “The Davis Book of Dogs” (HarperCollins); and “The Davis Book of Horses” (HarperCollins). He is President Emeritus of the Dog Writers Association of America and a founding member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Mordecai resides in New York City.


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