The Gossip Column: May 19, 2023
The return of WESTMINSTER to New York City also saw the return of the PURINA® PRO PLAN® SHOW DOGS OF THE YEAR AWARDS DINNER in partnership with DOG NEWS. It was held Sunday evening at the historic marbled former Greenwich Savings Bank GOTHAM HALL, where the black-tie crowd celebrated the top seven dogs in each group, obedience dog, top junior, and achievement award nominees and winners. They were feted with an evening of comic banter with everyone’s favorite BILL MCFADDEN and sidekick BESS MINSTER and glorious singing entertainment that brought a little bit of Broadway entertainment that is so uniquely New York. The standing ovation that singers AOIBHEANN GREENE, SCOTT DAVIES and MICHAEL XAVIER and music director FIZ SHAPUR received said it all. The nominees this year were very worthy of the awards given, but only one can win. Any one of the nominees could have been accepting those awards. As they say, it’s the nomination and recognition from their peers that count. With that said, Judge of the Year was EUGENE BLAKE, Professional Handler of the Year was TIFFANY SKINNER, Breeder of the Year was MIKE STONE & ALISA SYAR, Owner Handler of the Year was REMY SMITH-LEWIS, and Show of the Year was DOG FANCIERS ASSOCIATION OF OREGON. I had the honor to present the newest inductee to the PURINA® PRO PLAN® ANNE ROGERS CLARK HALL OF FAME to the HONORABLE DAVID C. MERRIAM, a long-overdue acknowledgment of all that DAVID has done for the sport of purebred dogs. It was a total surprise to DAVID, as he had no idea he was the recipient; DAVID stays away from the spotlight of large crowds and was tricked into attending by our good friend GAYLE BONTECOU. I am in eternal debt to her for helping to get DAVID to attend. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees and to all those who took part in the online voting. My thanks to my friends at PURINA® PRO PLAN® for putting on such a splendid event, namely, ANNIE BALOTTI, SHERRY BRESNAHAN, COREY (AKA CECIL B. DEMILLE for his directional skills) BENEDICT, BRIAN BENGELSDORF and DOG NEWS’ VIKKI OELERICH and DARLENE BELLO. It is a collaborative effort that the invited enjoy tremendously. In a wonderful and festive start to the weekend, on Saturday evening four lovely ladies — KAREN LEFRAK, PATRICIA HEARST, MISSY GALLOWAY and ELLEN CHARLES — with a flair for things French, like Poodles and Bulldogs, co-hosted a cocktail party at DOUBLES, the private club in the Sherry Netherland Hotel. The ladies greeted their guests as they arrived to what would be a room full of dog fanciers elbow to elbow, happy to be returning to Manhattan. Another WESTMINSTER WEEKEND comes to a close with lots of great memories. Hope you all had a safe trip home.