Image courtesy of Bill Cunningham, December 23, 1981
By Amy Phillips Penn

“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog
in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.”
— Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case of Sherlock Holmes


On a sunny day in Bridgehampton, I was taking a walk when a woman in a blue Mercedes convertible waved to me. I’d never seen her before, but an arriviste is an arriviste. Seated next to her was an over-coiffed shaggy dog — an elongated oxymoron drooling under Hollywood sunglasses.

“We’re driving around looking for someone from Hamptons Magazine to spot us. We’re dying to be photographed for them,” said the buxom driver.

I waved back, and moved on. Had I offered that I had written for Hamptons, who knows what she might have done? People have been kidnapped for less.

Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua, “Tinkerbelle,” was ripe for the canine ‘mini-me’ best dressed list, while I once had a neighbor in Wellington who had a monkey with an entire room for its wardrobe. (Michael Jackson, not.)

Do owners look like their dogs? Surf the internet and you will find some truly amazing photographs.

Socialites in Palm Beach, Saratoga, and the Hamptons couture-up their dogs, and reward look alike canine/owners with ribbons in their charity dog shows.

A funny thing happened on the way to Central Park.

Years ago, I was walking to the park with my ex-husband, Tom, and his Persian Saluki, “Pasha.”  Tom had tied the knot with Pasha…that is, the one on Tom’s old Shetland sweater, which was keeping Pasha warm. None of us looked like we could even spell “glamour” or “ambition.”

Click. Bill Cunningham’s famed camera caught it all, and we were on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily.

As if that wasn’t la-de-da enough, Tom’s father was queried by editors at Vogue about how we had knotted the sweater.

There’s more.

One of my closest friends, was a darling of Women’s Wear .

Her then-boyfriend was dismayed that she and her Pomeranians had not made the cut. It can be a cold world out there, at times.

She walked her frou-frou friends and but to no avail. They had missed their canine moment.

When I was a child, poodles had taken over Manhattan. I’m surprised that I ever knew there was another breed.

“Button and Bows” lived in our building. “B&B” was owned by a very savvy lady.  This toy poodle did not exactly love children.  When children reached forward to pet the snooty white poodle, with black saggy shadows around his eyes, the owner would say, “Button and Bows, if you like these people walk away from them. If you don’t, say hello.”

The children thought this was a wonderful trick, and went away flattered instead of feeling the gravitas of poodle rejection.

On the darker side, there was ‘bad-guy-kinda-handsome’ man in his twenties, who always had at least one Doberman around him.

He put on a show on Lexington Avenue, late at night with three Dobies performing tricks. One wondered how many Dobermans he had in all, and what his modus operendus was. Some things are better left unsaid.

When the ‘pick-up- after- your- dogs’ law went into effect, one family friend gave her dogs away the next day. This edict rang in the ‘poop-and-tell’ police wannabes and finger waggers from Park Avenue to the Village.

We were walking Pasha, post-pickup-law, when a voice came out of seemingly nowhere.

“Pick it up,” yelled a humorless voice from a penthouse, even before there was something to scoop.

A friend of my mother’s solved the issue in her own way. She simply held her poodle over the terrace and practiced the trickle-down effect.

“Status and fashion aside “there is one other reason for dressing well: namely that dogs respect it,
and will not attack you in good clothes.” — 
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Then, there’s always the chance that you’ll end up in W or Hamptons. They’re not called “woman’s best friend” for naught.

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