Packs of people and their pet pooches converged in New York City’s Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 on Saturday, Sept. 27 for “Strut Your Mutt,” a fundraiser put together by Best Friends Animal Society that was celebrating its fifth anniversary. Looming over these festivities was the aircraft carrier Intrepid, an easy landmark for dog lovers to find.
The sun burned down through our bone-thin ozone layer and bounced off the Hudson River for a serious scorcher, but the participants and volunteers at Strut Your Mutt took the hot temps in stride with big smiles and wagging tails. There was plenty of water on hand for the dogs and their owners to cool off.
This was an open event for anyone who wanted to help raise money for homeless pets in New York. The event offered a leisurely fundraising dog walk or for those more agile, a fun run, followed by a doggie-themed festival that included pet contests, photos, doggie goodies, food and fun. There was a huge turnout, and people in the crowd were eager to tell their dog stories.
Anna Saar said her 14-year-old Pekinese, Betty Rubble, was rescued out of a Camden, N.J., shelter. “We have four rescue dogs. They’re all Pekinese and all have eye disabilities,” she said. When I asked what drives her to help these dogs she said, “I just love them. They’re so giving and loving and bring joy into our lives.”
Jean-Luc is a rescue from the New Rochelle Humane Society and his mom Jen Bush proudly told me, “He just became a PupScout, so we’re marching with Scout Troop 4!” Then she leaned in and confessed, “Jean-Luc’s first official act as a PupScout was lifting his leg on a PupScout duffle bag that belonged to a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette named Leslie Riddle.” Whoops.
Christine Ford pointed to her canine. “I adopted Gracie. I started fostering her and her sister in January this year through Second Chance Rescue. Her sister got adopted, but Gracie stayed with me. I’m going to keep her. My Labrador had gotten very attached to her. Now they are partners in crime, and I’m here today to try to raise money to help another puppy find a home with somebody sweet.”
People had all kinds of stories. I found out a Beagle named Harriett was rescued four years ago as one of 120 Beagles freed from a laboratory in New Jersey by Best Friends Animal Society. It reminded me of the amazing book, “For Bea,” about a Beagle rescued from a lab.
“I’m here because my dog Henry is a rescue,” shared Christine Snyder. “I have another rescue dog named Jake who was terribly abused. Jake was used as a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring. He was terribly scarred and terrified of people, but now Jake is a very happy boy, a playful normal little dog. We’re so thankful for our wonderful dogs, so we’re very supportive of rescues and wanted to raise as much money as we can today.”
Maryann Lattanzio was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Team Legacy’s Diesel Cane Corso,” so, I had to ask. What I found out is that their dog Diesel is a two-year-old Cane Corso Italian Mastiff. “They were bred in Italy,” she said, adding, “Diesel is very friendly but also protective.” And he was huge!
Rebecca Beyer said her dog Radar was adopted from Best Friends in Utah. “I got him when he was 14 weeks old,” she shared. “He was part of their Guardian Angel program. He’s a love bug.” When I asked her what kind of dog Radar is she said, “I just got a DNA test done because I was curious what kind of dog he is. He’s mostly American Stafford Terrier and also a mix of Boxer.” Greg Beyer, Rebecca’s dad, added, “We’re here with Radar to try to raise money for shelter dogs so they can be adopted and all find a home. Radar has been with us for two years now, and he’s a happy, wonderful dog. The only thing wrong with him is that he is deaf.”
Jim Kiernan, a tech op at NBC, said his Pomeranian Nicholas was found on a street in Queens and put into a high-kill shelter. “Two days before he was going to be put down, he was put into foster care for two weeks. I applied to adopt him. He walked into my house, we made friends, and he never left,” Kiernan said. “That was four and a half years ago. Now he’s my good little boy, my rescue buddy.”
Elizabeth Tillem’s her dog Delphi came from Animal Care & Control of NYC. “She was 1 when they found her abandoned on 185th Street,” she said. “She was very skinny and timid, but a beautiful dog. She was so fearful. We helped her with a lot of training for socialization with trainers and groups. It was a lot of time, but she is so worth it.”
Don’t these stories make you want to run out and save a doggie?
Hope you enjoy the pics. (How could you not?)
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.