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“Ted, White and Blue – Patriotic Paws”

Five years ago today, we said farewell to our beloved Portuguese Water Dog, Hooper. Named for the Matt Hooper character of  the blockbuster movie Jaws, she really did drive the boat, our house, our lives.

On a cold night in the winter of 2010, “Hoop Girl” was sitting by my feet at the moment I happened upon something called National Dog Week, a quirky yet poignant Canine American Holiday established in 1928. I fell in love with its colorful history, and began writing a biography about its Founder, Captain Will Judy, chronicling its unique, roller coaster-like legacy. In doing so, a new career was launched, and five books later, I’ve never stopped writing.

Alone with Hooper during the last moments of her life, I had an odd request. I whispered in her ear, “When the time is right, please send Dad and I a special new dog friend, and if possible please send one that likes other dogs and is calm, cool and collected.”

It seemed like a strange way to say goodbye to a loyal and loving companion, but in true dog-like fashion, within five months, my heart-felt request was granted when we fostered a little black and white Havanese-mix named Teddy.

Teddy came to us like a bright light in a bleak post Hurricane Sandy landscape. He wasn’t intended to stay, but stay he did, and has brought us much happiness. “Steady Teddy” couldn’t be any more different than “Hyper Hooper”. And unlike Hooper, Teddy adores other dogs. Now, with us for nearly four years, Teddy sits by my feet and inspires me to keep on writing, in fact, a story I wrote, based on his arrival in our lives, will be part of an Anthology released by the Revell Publishing group in October 2018. When the editor titles the book, I will let you know!

And another interesting thing happened with the Tedster by my side. I revamped my art studio and did something I’d wanted to do for a very long time, paint my first pet portrait. The painting of Teddy featured above, draped by the American flag, brings my creative life full circle, and reminds me why I continue to write about dogs and history, or anything else that inspires me. It also captures the spirit of National Dog Week that was established to encourage a collective and thoughtful period when we are mindful of all the ways dogs enrich our lives.

 

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Hooper, Ready for Her Close-Up

There are many exciting things going on in the Creative Front, and we’re working hard and visualizing some good days ahead; creating during challenging circumstances when the sun is temporarily hidden by fleeting clouds; welcoming the positive influences and encouragement from a dog that’s been sent to help makes it all worthwhile. That’s the ultimate gift.

The 89th Observance of National Dog Week will be celebrated the week of September 25th this year!

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On Saturday, my husband, Rich, had the honor of transporting Old English sheepdog, DJ, and his owner, Beverly Barbaz, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to Manhattan for DJ’s debut at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Rich drove DJ, and his “Mom,” to their hotel just a few blocks away from Madison Square Garden.  According to him, dogs had invaded the sidewalks, and hotel lobbies of New York City.  All kinds of dogs greeted him upon his arrival, including a “party-mix” Portuguese water dog that sashayed right past him.  Hooper’s snout was out of joint because her dad didn’t get its “pawtagraph.”

On the official website for the Westminster event, there is a beautiful watercolor that has been made into a poster for this year’s event.  In it, a woman in a car (circa  the 1940s), transports her dog past a back drop of several others, including to my pleasure, a big black and white Portuguese water dog, complete with its big goofy expression.

This week marks the 134th annual occurence of this prestigious dog show.  This year, 170 different breeds will be judged.  Officially, there are seven Breed Groups judged at the Westminster show, however, there is also a group of “dogs in waiting” that occupy an eighth group knows as “Miscellaneous.”  Even if DJ is deemed best in his breed, he is up against unusually stiff competition in the Herding Group.  This year, two new breeds were welcomed into this group, the Norwegian Buhund, and the Pyrenean Shepherd.   Also making its debut, is the Irish Red and White Setter, in the Non-Sporting Group.

DJ’s handler is Gail Bodisch, of Deja Blu Old English Sheepdogs in Poughquag, New York.  Hopefully, after Gail is finished with her hard work at this event, I can talk to her about the crucial bond that exists between a dog and its handler.  Rich related to me how excited, and happy, DJ was to see Gail in New York City. 

On the subject of dog handling, an item in a Spartanburg, South Carolina newspaper, written by Lee G. Healy, tells how a local boy from that area, 12-year old Zakery Slater, will become the youngest handler in the junior category to ever appear at the Westminster Show.  Zak will be showing his Bernese mountain dog, Kaz, tomorrow.  Zak qualified for this honor by achieving 10 first-place wins in one year’s time.   Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, would have been proud of this young man.  Captain Judy, and much later, Captain Arthur Haggerty knew that by working together, a young person, and their dog, can learn the importance of team work, discipline, and even, as in this case, lead youths to consider career options that involve animals, and their care.

Another way to honor dogs is to celebrate them in art.  Our “seasonal neighbors,” down in Big Pine Key, Florida, Rick and Diane, recently sent the above photo of a portrait of their dogs, Koda, and Logan.  Logan was recently adopted by Diane and Rick, after the passing of their beloved shepherd, Dugan.  Koda, also an adoptee, is now five years old.  Their friend, artist, Steven Hall, presented them with this beautiful portrait just the other day. 

And we look forward to meeting Logan, soon, as we will be traveling down that way on Thursday.  Posting will continue as we journey south, through St. Augustine, Orlando, Port Charlotte, Weston, and finally to the Keys.  Last year I was informed that more best selling books were written in the Florida Keys than anywhere else.  I sure hope that’s  true, because I hope to be completing most of my National Dog Week book while I am down there….Stay tuned while I get those “ruff” drafts in shape!

I’ll let you know how sweet “little” DJ made out in New York.

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”