Pampered Dog Getty Images News/Franck Prevel
By Amy Phillips Penn

VINTAGE GOSSIP is alive and well in the elegant hands of Amy Phillips Penn, former society columnist for the New York Post. Every Thursday, Amy pens her posts with that same touch of class, making the legends and lore of a bygone era as relevant today as they were when Jackie O was queen of New York.

One fine Bridgehampton day, I walked by a blonde woman in a blue convertible Mercedes. So far, so trite.

Her front seat passenger was an oversized, overly coifed shaggy dog with gigunda pink sunglasses — the ones that young Minnie or Mickey fans get at Disneyland, so that you can spot them from a mile away…along with every other child that’s wearing them.

“Do you know where I can find Randy Schindler (the then editor of the Hamptons)? We’ve been driving around all day, hoping that he’d photograph us.”

I shrugged my shoulders. If I let her know that I had Randy on speed dial, or that I had written for Hamptons, I may have been kidnapped into the twilight zone of a custom-made New York Post headline.

I wondered if she had rented the dog for a publicity prop.

Pedigrees of all breeds can Vogue-up our images. While the mention of a champion at the most elite of dog or cat shows may invoke respect in some circles, name dropping has its own chime and is ripe for an APP of its own: The Name Dropper.

Once upon a magazine deadline, a friend of a friend asked me to try out one of her Jack Russell puppies for the weekend, in the hope that I would fall in love and keep little Romance. Although Romance was indisputably fetching, while desperately attempting to make a tight editorial deadline, I was running up and down elevators to the laundry room. My white sheets were drowning in puppy mistakes. So Romance returned to her owner, the friend of the friend who was disappointed, indeed. My Alpha was Beta’d by the pup.

The friend of the friend was disappointed. She had already informed her entourage that one of the puppies had gone to a columnist of the Post (moi); another to a Vanity Fair editor, and a third to a famous designer’s publicist. Ah…the allure of a provenance.

Then there are horses, the ultimate status symbol for some, and the demise for those who refuse to learn to handle them with care and prowess.

In my first polo clinic, one of the men, at least double the weight that his now sagging polo pony could bear, announced perfunctorily and with pride, “I don’t want to learn to ride. I just want to play polo.”

Beware beginners on horseback.

One infamous polo patron was considered the “single worst embarrassment” to the polo club he belonged to. He hired the best pros, while he and his mount stood still in the middle of the polo field. His pros tried to avoid him, often landing in the hospital (“Big Boy” polo is played with an ambulance on each side of the field). The patron shook his head and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Where does pet sanity end? Our neighbor’s poodle was recommended to see a canine psychiatrist. “Enough is enough. The kids are one thing, but the poodle is simply going to have to get over herself,” replied the incredulous owner.

As for the political side, my sister once named a tortoise “Sebastian,” and not after a Saint. She had gone to a sermon in East Hampton, and remembered these words: “What was once a bastion of bigotry…” (I don’t remember the rest, but that works for now). “That’s what I’ll call my turtle: Sebastian,” she said, as she fed him yet another kosher hot dog.

For more VINTAGE GOSSIP, click here.