The dogs in show (and also in field) took front stage in New York City this past week. Miss P, the Beagle who won Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club, and Patti Hearst’s Shitzuh, “Rocket,” who won Top Toy, weren’t the only winners. Bonhams Barkfest Brunch last Sunday, benefitting the American Kennel Club Humane Fund, offered dog and art lovers alike a preview of their annual auction of dog art.
Burton, the Leonburger, a 150-pound rescue, showing at Westminster for the second time with owner Pamela Isaacson was as much an object of attention at brunch as the art itself. She explained that not only does Burton do therapy work at a VA hospital in Boston, but the gentle giant also takes “selfies.” Garth, the Bloodhound, “has friends in low places,” his owner Karen Dawley of NH commented after eyeing this writer’s three-pound toy poodle, Bellini. Garth, the number one owner-handled of all breeds, will retire after this years show. He’s collected multiple Best in Show titles. “He’s like my first husband,” said Dawley, “nice and high maintenance.” Emotional when talking about Garth’s retirement, Dawley advised, “Don’t bring Kleenex; bring Bounty.”
Jane Friedlander of Boston showed her Dalmatian, Tasha, a finished Champion. “She has an amazing temperament, but is anxious; because of the snow in boston she hasn’t been able to run as usual,” said Friedlander, about her dog who has numerous obedience titles and has been training for “coaching.” Dalmatians were bred to protect the horses as they ran with the horse and carriages. “They were the guardians–to keep children and thieves away from the horses.” They are good at search and rescue. “The black and white [coloring] was a desert camouflage.”
A silver Standard Poodle with the call name, Tiki, trained for agility was there with his owner/handler, Edward Volchok, and his wife, Karen Frenkel, who pointed out Tiki is “a civilian.” The common denominator among the guests was a love of canines whether rescues, pampered pets, in the ring, on the field or represented by the artist.
The dogs at Bonhams brunch sampled 13-year-old Ryan Kelly’s all natural peanut butter dog treats sold under the name Ry’s Ruffery. This young “Shark Tank” entrepreneur’s two-year-old business with the backing of NY real estate maven, Barbara Corcoran, has done so well that it will pay for his college and that of his siblings.
Just as each of us and every dog has its own story so does each art work. Alan Fausel, VP and Director of Fine Arts at Bonham’s NY, and a veteran appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow,” was enthusiastic in sharing his abundant knowledge about each piece selected for Bonham’s Dog Art Auction. “Sporting dog paintings and gun dogs carry a high price and sell well,” he said, explaining why he was pleased to point out some International ones acquired from a western museum as well as some “nice Bassetts” from a breeder’s estate. Works by noted United Kingdom sporting artists, John Emms, Arthur Wardle, and Thomas Blinks were represented as were Richard Fath’s sculptures.
As for other trends in current tastes: “The photo department steals the [William] Wegman’s;” lamented Fausel. “I’d love to have one [of his Weimaraners].” Fausel pointed out that people are becoming more contemporary in their tastes. “ I’m trying to respond to that. We want to attract a younger audience. He hopes that the interest in George Rodrigue’s popular “Blue Dog” [I Wish I Had A Polka Dot Bikini] will provide a path for them to get access although “Rodrigue is not as collectable anymore, since he’s seen as being more commercial.”
An Atlanta attorney was eyeing Edmond Van Der Meulen’s “Trial By Bulldog” to hang in her office. Fausel said, “She wants a Pit Bull on her side.”
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