Anna Jane Grossman

Anna Jane Grossman is a writer, dog trainer and The Bark contributor. It is reposted here with permission.

News: Guest Posts
RIP Dick Clark, Dog Person

This week we mourn the loss of a dog lover extraordinaire: Dick Clark. He was 574. In dog years.

Clark was a big-time dog person. He designed his Malibu home so it could accommodate all his dogs—he sometimes had as many as five at a time. The showers were extra large so that he could wash the pups himself, he told LA’s Pet Press in 2001. It was even his dog, he’d said years earlier, who’d picked out the place: His Lab, Mort, got loose one afternoon on the beach, and Clark found him on a beautiful piece of beachfront property. He liked it as much as Mort did, so he called the owners and arranged to buy it. There, he and his wife Kari celebrated each dog’s birthday with plates of meatballs with candles in them. Kari was in charge of the party hats. He would take photos.

In recent years, the Clarks had a pug named Mrs. Jones, and Henry VIII, a 110-pound Weimaraner. There was also Lucille, a Dalmatian who was a gift from Gloria and Emilio Estefan—flown in via private jet. Bernardo was a Dachshund-mix the Clarks found on the streets of San Bernardino. They dropped him off at the pound and then made a U-turn and picked him up. (He would become their fourth Dachshund.) Many of the Clarks’ dogs were named for songs: Maybelline was a pup birthed by Mort’s girlfriend, Molly; Eleanor Rigby was a stray the Clarks took in.

In the office of Dick Clark Productions in Burbank, dogs roamed as they pleased. They took the elevators rather than the stairs; they trained human staffers to push the buttons for them. They also convinced all Clark’s employees to feed them leftovers, leading Clark to affix “Don’t Feed Me” signs to his charges when they made the rounds in the office.

“There are a few people that don’t like dogs, so they don’t pay any attention to them. But for the most part people pet them, feed them, bring them presents, and talk to them. It has a nice effect on a place that tends to have a lot of tension,” he told The Pet Press’ Lori Golden. “When the dogs enter, it breaks the ice. I’ll say sorry, we’re in a meeting, and they’ll turn around and leave. But everybody sort of laughs and it loosens up the meeting.”

“They’re pressure relievers,” he continued. “You’ll be on the phone at work dealing with something stressful and they’ll just walk up and want a pat.”

As his health began to decline in 2004, Clark told the Associated Press that he didn’t think that he’d had a stroke; when he awoke partially numb one morning, it was a feeling he was familiar with: He thought a dog had slept on his side.

In the 1980s, a then seemingly-unageable Clark had several popular TV programs. Although he tended to keep his own brood off camera, he occasionally invited other people’s dogs on his shows. Here, on Live! Dick Clark Presents, he interviews Spuds Mackenzie, Bud Light’s Bullterrier mascot. He asks his pretty (and very ’80s) handlers about a vicious rumor he’d heard: Spuds was really a woman. The ladies deny it, but Clark was actually correct—his real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye.

On his Friday Night Surprise show in 1989, Clark orchestrated one of the most charming kid-dog segments I’ve ever seen on the boob- or YouTube. Witness Dick Clark’s surprise talking Basset Hound.

Sources: Blisstree.com, The Associated Press, The Pet Press, ILoveDogs

Culture: DogPatch
Occudogs of NYC
Portraits of the Occudogs of NYC

From late September into November 2011, activists camped out in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest. They call themselves “the 99%,” but only 98 percent of them had two feet; the rest had four. A tour of the encampment turned up a few stand-outs.

Missy Paulette, a six-year-old Westie, accompanied Monica, who works in the area as a temp. “The recession is affecting dogs in many ways,” Monica notes. “For one thing, with budget cuts, the first to lose funding are the city shelters.” The pair lives on the Upper East Side. Missy Paulette, who wore a pink hoodie emblazoned with the words “Give Me Treats,” made her own statement with several placards and a stack of press releases pointing out that “the 99% want a new leash on life.” To help Missy fit in with the tent-dwelling humans, Monica bought her an infant-size sleeping bag and a toy purchased especially for the occasion: a rolledup rubber newspaper called the Bark Street Journal.

Taylor, an 18-year-old from Manhattan, was minding her boyfriend’s Pit Bull, Genocide. She didn’t know why he gave her that name. “I never asked him,” she says. Taylor and her friends staffed the Animal Zone of Occupy Paw Street, where people donated and acquired pet food, litter and assorted gear. “We want to give the animals a voice,” she says. “They’re our babies.” Taylor’s friend, Jason, started the Animal Zone soon after Occupy Wall Street began on September 27. Before that, he was squatting in an empty building on the Lower East Side. On his lap was his dog, Cheyenne, whom he acquired shortly after getting out of jail several years ago. “She’s part German Shepherd or something. But I like to call her a wolf. Yeah, write that. She’s a wolf.” Also living with him at Occupy Wall Street was Nino, a Pit Bull. “Everyone here loves him,” Jason said.

Chloe is a one-year-old Pit Bull owned by Rowe, a 21-year-old truckloader from Albany. He brought her to the park for a few days, along with her six one-month-old puppies. They spent the day in a crate in the free clothing area. “There were seven, but one was stolen the other night out of a tent,” he says. Several protesters showed interest in adopting some of the puppies, but they’re all going to go to people he knows from home. “No offense to everyone here, but I don’t know these people. And the way people are with Pit Bulls … I want to make sure they go to loving homes, not to anyone who would fight them.”

Flick, a 10-year-old mutt, is nervous around people, so his person, Josh, normally doesn’t bring him to the protest. But on occasion, sacrifices must be made. Flick was hiding under a table while Josh sat nearby learning to crochet. “My wife and I are trying to sell our apartment and we’re having an open house today. We didn’t want him there for that, so he came with me,” he explains. Josh lives in Prospect Heights and owns a recording studio. He feels that the Occupy movement touches dogs more than people realize. “Look at the industrial food system — all the crap dog food we feed our pets. They eat all this terrible stuff and then they get cancer and die. Wall Street, stop killing our pets!” Flick recently had his diet switched to a “grain-free, limited ingredient” brand.

Alex, who hails from Puerto Rico, lives two blocks away from Zuccotti Park and often walks his dog — Amber, a nine-year-old Shih Tzu — there in the afternoons. The routine continued despite the fact that it meant navigating a maze of tents. Sometimes Amber promenaded with a “Wake Up, America” sign on her back. “I love it — this is very important here. It reminds me of how things [must have been] in the ’70s.”

Halloween Parade for Humans Who Enjoy Dressing Up Dogs
New York's East Village tradition

On October 22, New York’s best-dressed dogs came to the 21st Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, held in the park’s dog run.

Ubaldo came wearing the neon green “mankini” thong made famous in the movie Borat. He debuted this outfit earlier in the year at the New York City Dachshund Meetup Group pageant. That event requires each dog have three changes of costume. This was his swimwear entry. “His coloring is just so perfect for Borat,” said Alyson Nehran, the international flight attendant who sewed the outfit herself. “Last year, he was a Coney Island bather. This year, I wanted to do something really design intensive so that I could play with the concept.”

Amazing Grace, a Chihuahua, won a prize for her hat—a dog-sized replica of the one warn by Princess Beatrice at the Royal Wedding. It was designed by Anthony Rubio, a school teacher in the Bronx who moonlights as a costume designer. Said Grace’s owner, physical trainer Summer Strand: “He’s the Alexander McQueen of dog fashion.”

Bailey is a five-year-old Puggle-cum-panda. He wasn’t sure how he felt about this fact—his jacket-costume looked a little like the bear was eating him. “But I think he likes it—I mean, all his friends are doing it,” said his owner, Jon Zanoff. In previous years, Zanoff has dressed his dog as a hot dog and as a piglet. His friend said the panda was appropriate because it is the logo of an app Zanoff developed that lets people review bars. “You can rate how hot people are,” she said. Dogs don’t get rated.

Rosie, a 9-month-old Pit Bull, wore a pink child’s dress and a belt of spikes around her middle. Her 6-year-old owner, Isa, said she was supposed to be a punk rock princess. “It’s because she is a princess. She sleeps on the couch!” she said. Isa’s mom, Masha Schmidt, said that Rosie indeed has a punk side, too: “She likes to eat my makeup.”

Liz Mulgrew's Bella, a Cairn Terrier, also came as a punk rocker. She wore a pale blue shirt emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. It’s part of Martha Stewart’s dog clothing line. Her face hair was spiked all around, like a starfruit. Mulgrew didn't use any product. "Her hair is pretty moldable,” she said. “It's easy to get it to go like that. But she usually wears it down.”

Holly, a Pomeranian, was the Hamburglar, a McDonaldland character. “She has this little mask around her eyes naturally, so she just needed the striped suit,” said Holly’s companion, Stephanie Radvan. Radvan got the convict dog outfit online. "But I wanted her to be a prisoner with some kind of flair,” so she pinned McDonald’s burger wrappers on Holly’s sides. “I went out and bought four burgers this morning. They're still at home.”

“It’s his name, so he always wears this costume,” said Kendra Shea, of her dog Yoda, who was Yoda. His sister, also a Pug, came as Leia. She wore an impressive homemade headband glued with yarn to look like two buns. She sat in a stroller that was decorated with cardboard to look like Princess Leia’s Speeder Bike. The whole project was conceived and executed in under 48 hours, said Shea.

“It was on sale,” said Anna DePalma's of the costume worn by her Havanese, Louis. Louis was a ram.

“He’s an Occupy Wall Street dog, and I’m a cop,” said Christine Chiu, there with her Bichon, Oscar. She wore a blue police cap and had handcuffs clipped to her belt. Chiu was dismayed to learn hers was not the only dog to arrive with protester placards on both sides. “I always like to do something current,” she said. Last year, she is rather sure she had the only dog that came as an iPad. “I thought of turning that costume into an iPhone 4S. But Occupy Wall Street is more what people are talking about.”