March 21, 2007
I know some people are getting bored with this business about shaving my head, the shaving is about saving some good dogs.
Folks are either dog people or not. Karen and I are. We didn't have children of our own, but Rudy is very much our son. I'll never forget the day we got him — the breeder had shipped him up to MacArthur Airport. We got stuck in traffic, and we got there late. We rushed into the terminal and saw a big crowd surrounding something. They were all ogling Rudy, our new boy.
He was Momma's boy for sure. Karen would hold him like a baby in her arms. I bought her a baby's bag, like mom's had for human babies. He had a botty and a blankie, he had handy wipes, he had little treats and his own little pillow. Karen worked in the city then, and on Sunday nights I'd bring her to the train station and put her on it. Rudy would forlornly stare out the back window of the car all the way home, hoping against hope to see a train coming back around the bend.
When she returned the following Friday, he would get so excited he would run around in circles like a lunatic. He'd sleep right next to her in bed, cuddled so close she would become uncomfortable, yet both treasured every moment.
Once another dog lover called, wanting to breed with Rudy (or maybe she wanted her dog to breed with him). We dug up his "papers." Under sire it said "Rick Murphy" — it seemed that first night I had erased the real sire's name and put mine in his place.
We got Garcia to keep Rudy company. Garcia is a big lug, a little slow. He's got these non-cancerous tumors all over the place, big extruding bumps that make him look misshapen. He's got issues, but we love him, and he loves his Mommy, too. He sleeps in the bed, by her side, right below Rudy, who won't let Garcia share the pillows. I get a little corner of the bed, whatever little piece of blanket I can grab, and if I'm lucky, a pillow. Sometimes in the middle of the night Karen wakes up and puts the dog blankie on me, while my guys are under the down quilt and the Ralph Lauren satin sheets.
We haven't gone away since our honeymoon, because we don't want to leave "the boys."
When I come home tonight, they will be waiting for me at the door. Rudy goes to it 10 minutes before I get home — they say dogs can pick up the whine of the truck engine. They jump on me then run to the couch, leaving enough room for me to sit between them, where I proceed to scratch their ears and rub their bellies. They love it. "Poppy's Home," I say over and over. Their tails wag and they literally smile. While I'm cooking supper, they nap, one on each couch, with legs and paws stuck straight up in the air.
These dogs I'm trying to help save at RSVP aren't any different. A lot of them had mommies and poppies. Some died. Some had to move.
Some of the dogs weren't as lucky. They were owned by crack addicts who kept them chained up.
None of these dogs have done anything wrong. They are facing euthanasia only because their time at the dog pound is up and no one has adopted them. More dogs are coming in, more dogs who have been left on the streets to die.
So RSVP volunteers come in and save the dogs. Some of the volunteers have a dozen of them at home. They need good homes, and they need mommies and poppies who will love them. Because the truth is, all a dog really wants is someone to love. See "Shelter Stories" on page B-14 and take a look at some of the dogs who are in need. Go visit one and see for yourself how good they are.
The outpouring so far has been remarkable. Lori Pane from East Hampton Fence Inc. just sent a big check. She's taken shelter dogs in herself. Love, kindness and patience, she advised. "These dogs are perfect. All it took was those three magic words," she wrote.
My dentist Vinnie Clapps sent me a generous donation. I love Vinnie, because thanks to him even though I'll have a bald, ugly head I'll still have my glittering smile. Vin is a notorious tightwad, but not when it comes to his patients and dogs. Ciletti and Clapps have offices in Southold and East Quogue and believe me, they are good.
My buddy Paul Yolango from Park Place Wines and Liquors (Hmm, what was I doing in there?) reached into his own pocket. In fact, most of the donations have come not from businesses but individuals.
Simone Monahan sent a check in honor of "Kisses," one of the rescued dogs. The wonderful Joan Diedolf of Eastport, the well-known bon vivant and authoress, made a generous contribution as well.
Richard and Deborah Ann Smidt sent a check and wrote "God bless this cause!" Bill Gardiner of East Hampton wrote a check the first day. David Rubenstein and his son, David Flam Rubenstein, were the first people in the door. Margaret Smidt (Coram), Irwin Billman (Remsenburg), Harry Bates and John E. Coar (East Hampton) Julia and Harry K. Abrams Jr. (Hampton Bays) and Jill and Freston Anderson III also donated to the cause. Some folks didn't even want to give their names. They just sent some dough.
If you are a business and would like to sponsor this effort, we will provide the publicity, including a full-page ad with each sponsor listed prominently. The actual shaving will take place on television and all those who have helped will be recognized. RSVP will also send out thank you notes and documentation asserting your gift is tax deductible. But the real reward will be the dogs that we find wonderful homes and loving families for instead of a cell and certain death.
Send a check made out to "RSVP," c/o The Independent, 74 Montauk Highway, East Hampton, NY 11937. Hell, for the right sum I might keep my head bald ("you'll never find another wife!" Karen warned).
I have always believed that when you die and Judgment Day comes, the dogs you have been kind to will be there to help you get your just rewards. I haven't lived the most sterling of lives, and I've done a lot of things I regret, but if all the "Rudys" I have known in my life have a say about it, I'm going straight to heaven!