“Thank you Lenny for all you do for our dog community. Wonderful pug group and great job on your fundraising!” – Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show
We had No, let’s be honest. I had been looking forward to a rare fancy night out at the New York Pet Fashion Show since November 2012 when Lenny was asked to participate in the Vendor Runway portion of the event. When I learned that this year’s event beneficiary was one of our favorite NYC shelters, Animal Haven, I knew we had to do it! However, at the time there was a small hiccup. We were hoping to have our new shop open around that time and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it. And then fate took hold and our shop opening hit a few road bumps so on New Year’s Eve I messaged Ada to ask if Lenny’s spot was still available. To my delight, it was!
I chose a gorgeous vintage Betsey Johnson dress to wear. No, I didn’t buy it from a trendy vintage shop in the Village. I have just hung onto it long enough that it, along with much of my wardrobe, is now considered vintage. Hmmm…maybe I’m vintage now, too. But, I digress… Back to the dress! It was perfect! Its tiny spaghetti straps and low back would show off the gorgeous tattoo work by Jon Mesa across my back, shoulder and arm, while the asymmetrical hemline would allow me to proudly show off my latest, and okay let’s just agree its my greatest, tattoo of a smiling Lenny by Andy Bautista on my thigh. Have I mentioned how much I hate promoting myself, but LOVE promoting others?
Once I had chosen something appropriate to wear that wouldn’t embarrass Lenny while he mingled with his peers, it was his turn. He, of course, eschewed the evening’s theme (The Roaring 20’s) as well as all social guidelines and decided he would go au natural. That’s right. The pug was going to attend the party NAKED! Oh the horror! LOL! While many folks know the pug has a fabulous winter wardrobe envied even by HUMANS, it has always been important to me to allow him to be a pug first and foremost. The event was being held on the top floor ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel — no need for protection from inclement weather indoors. So, run nekkid little pug! Run nekkid!
With our attire chosen, we had five weeks to relax while event organizers scrambled to pull everything together. If you’ve ever organized a public event in NYC, you know how many CASES of wine those organizers probably went through calming their nerves. I have…and can make an educated guess.
Anyway, on January 28 I received a message from Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show:
“We would like to present a formal invitation to the New York Pet Fashion Show on Feb 8 at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Lenny has been nominated for an award. Please confirm attendance. Thank you!”
WHAT?!?! I wondered to myself, “What in the world has the little pug been doing when I’m not around? Obviously its been positive because he’s won an award!” I was so proud of my little pug.
With the news of a mysterious award, my excitement grew! And then after weeks of anticipation…
Winter storm Nemo. Stupid blizzard.
I considered every possible option of transporting the little pug to the event. Car service. Too expensive and would take a miracle to get a car in the storm. Subway. MTA warned of suspended service and our home stop is above ground — surely it would be shut down. Walking. One hundred sixty-seven blocks south in dropping temperatures and blizzard conditions carrying a 17 lb pug. Absolutely not. There just didn’t seem to be a truly safe method of transportation for us. And so after months of looking forward to a night out, I made the heartbreaking decision that we would not attend. I would not wear my dress. Lenny would not frolic naked in a fancy ballroom. And most crushing, the little pug would not be able to accept his award — which I could only assume was for “Frito-iest Feet”.
That decision, however difficult, ranked low on my chart of difficult decisions throughout Lenny’s life thus far. He wasn’t having a limb amputated. He wasn’t being put under anesthesia. It wouldn’t bring on a seizure. He didn’t know or care that he was going to miss a party. Nor did he know or care that he was supposed to accept an award that evening. He knew that home was safe and warm and cared that his dinner would be in his bowl.
So we stayed home listening to the wind, watching the snow fall like magic and Lenny ate his dinner from his bowl. The little pug was happy…and so was I.
This morning Lenny and I woke to a snow covered wonderland. Gorgeous, but definitely not suited for Lenny as the little pug slid down the steps of our front stoop and stood frozen waiting for me to pick him up and carry him to the sidewalk where a narrow path had been created by human footprints. I rarely carry my phone with me when walking Lenny, but this morning I took it along to take photos of our snowyneighborhood and I’m glad I did. A simple message arrived from Ada while we walked:
“Congrats NYC Top Dog of 2013!!!!!!”
WHAT?!?!? It must be a mistake. The message must have been truncated and Ada meant to send me the list of last evening’s award winners. I messaged Ada back to inquire and then I started to cry. As the tears froze on my cheeks, I was overwhelmed by the possibility that Lenny had actually been named the NYC Top Dog of 2013. I have said it thousands of times and will say it thousands more during Lenny’s lifetime. The little pug is my northern star ever directing me to all that’s good and decent in the world. He reminds me daily of what is truly important.
When we returned home, and Lenny had his post-walk cookie, I messaged my dear friend, Gail, who had volunteered with Animal Haven at last night’s evening and graciously accepted Lenny’s award in our absence, to confirm. Her answer? Lenny had indeed received the award for NYC’s Top Dog 2013 (almost a unanimous vote, according to Ada a few minutes later)! Gail had his award and a goody bag in hand. I was beside myself. Stunned. Honored. Humbled. And crying again.
Thank you Ada, Gregg Oehler (President/CEO, New York Pet Fashion Show), Richard Cordero (Vice President, New York Pet Fashion Show), Dana Humphrey (PR & Marketing Consultant, New York Pet Fashion Show), Gail, Animal Haven staff & volunteers, everyone on the committee who voted for Lenny, and last but absolutely not least, the amazing NYC animal community!
I’ve never sought out accolades or expected recognition for anything Lenny and I have done. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of the incredible animal community here in NYC. I will proudly display Lenny’s award at our new shop when it opens this Spring as a daily reminder to myself, our staff and everyone who stops in, that we all have the power to do good every day. We simply must choose to do it.