A Weekend at Celebrity Catwalk’s “Paws in the City”
All photos and story by Dorri Olds Contributor
Celebrity Catwalk’s “Paws in the City” in Manhattan lived up to the hype. Furry beasties and besties got together in the Big Apple and whooped it up for three days thanks to the founder Jennifer Bartok-Taylor. Their mission? To have a blast while raising funds for K-9 brethren through nonprofits: Zani’s Furry Friends, Pugs for Pinky, and Yorkie911 Rescue. It was three days of nonstop fun and heartwarming holiday tales of tailwaggers.
“Merry & Bright Yappy Hour” kicked off the weekend on Friday, December 9, followed by “Santa Paws & Pups” on Saturday, and Sunday’s “Bah Humbug Brunch.” Crafty canine fashion designers included Dapper Dogues & Glitzy Paws, Roxie by the Baie, and Off the Cuff Stuff for Pets.
One of the stars this year was Angel Song, an adorable Chihuahua dressed pretty in pink by designer Barbara Klubeck. Angel Song was rescued by fitness coach Summer Strand and their love story is epic. “Ada Nieves of a Chihuahua Meetup group sent an email about a homeless Chi,” said Strand, “Somehow I just knew with my whole being this Chi belonged with me.”
Although the Chi was malnourished, thin, and weak, Strand said, “She had the face of an angel.” She’d been owned by a woman down on her luck who gave the tiny pooch to a rescue. Strand said, “Her rescuer cried because she weighed only 17 ounces at one year old.”
This little soul couldn’t walk or even hold herself up. “When I picked her up in my hands,” said Strand, “I called her Angel Song. She turned her head and kissed my nose. Everyone burst into tears. One of her legs is longer than the other, and she has a curve in her spine, but the little fluff nugget has a strong heart and lungs. She is pure love and magic with a dash of spunk.”
The next holiday heart-warmer we sniffed out came via Heidi Walker, founder of Yorkie911 Rescue. “Philly was one of four dogs surrendered from the same home. He was scrawny but sweet. We have all the dogs vetted before they go to foster homes. I asked fellow dog lover Mary Goodrow to foster him, knowing all along that my intention was for her to adopt him, which is exactly what happened! Philly went from rags to riches and has more beds, clothes and furniture than I do,” said Walker with a big smile. Goodrow took Philly to classes to become a therapy dog and the Yorkie now gives back to her community, visiting facilities and bringing smiles.
We spent time with dolled-up dogs Yeyush and Renzo wearing Furry Fashionista outfits, and pooches Chai Latte and Sparky in festive Ay Chihuana garb. Attendees came from far and wide. President of The Paws Cause rescue, Amy Cox, who flew in all the way from Dallas, Texas, told us about her three-pound Maltipoo, Polly.
“She was 45 minutes away from euthanasia when I got to her at the Irving, Texas, animal shelter,” said Cox. “The shelter had called to ask if I could pick her up to save her life and get her to the foster family that was waiting.” Cox drove an hour and got there in time to save the dog’s life. But, when she saw Polly, she fell in love, “I told the rescue, tell the foster family she found her furever home!”
Cox said, “This is my first Celebrity Catwalk. I travel all over the country and I use my dressed-up dogs as a platform to get the word out about animal rescue. We attract so much attention, often drawing crowds and people will stand in line to take pictures. It’s so much fun and we make people happy, and they get to see for themselves what kind of wonderful treasures can be found in a shelter.”
By this time your heart must be full-to-bursting, but we have one more tissue-grabbing tale to boost your spirits. It comes from long-time supporter of animal rescues Fern Weinbaum, whom we spoke to at the Paws in the City event. She’s the proud mom of eight rescued Shih Tzus and runs a Shih Tzu Meetup group.
After receiving a call, Weinbaum arrived at the ASPCA. She said, “I saw the cutest little white roly poly Shih Tzu mix with the flattest face, biggest brown eyes, and short legs. He came waddling over to look at me. He made faces and my heart melted. They told me he needed a guardian angel and I fit the bill since I was an experienced Shih Tzu owner.”
He’d been brought in due to bad behavior. It turned out that he had liver disease and the toxins in his little two-year-old body were making him act up. It was hard to hear when Weinbaum said, “He would bang his head after he ate.”
He was a biter and no one could handle him. Doctors muzzled him before exams. “I took my little monster home and named him Dustin. I worked with him for hours each night, wearing a down coat, gloves, and a scarf so I wouldn’t get bitten. I showed him how I kissed and held the other dogs. I sat on the floor for hours trying to get Dustin into my lap. I fell more and more in love with him even though he still had poor behavior and acted crazy. After one trip to the vet, I’d missed him. When I picked him up, I took a chance and put my face inside his cone. He started kissing me and hasn’t stopped to this day.”
Weinbaum said, “Now Dustin is the sweetest, most adorable dog. He’ll celebrate 10 years with me next month and he’ll turn 12 on April Fool’s Day. No special meds, no special foods and what a personality. He ‘talks’ and snores.” Then she said with a big smile, “He’s my favorite.”