In this our year of reinvention, WAG’s April animal issue reconsiders our relationship with our fine, furry, feathered friends. The animals in our lives have helped us through one of the most challenging times, as our Wits reveal. We couldn’t have gone through our sorrows without them. Or our joys. Certainly, Wares columnist Cami’s son, Gregory Weinstein, wouldn’t have had as unique a proposal for his fiancée, Michaela Pavia, without their Doodle puppy, Franklin. As Cami writes in her piece on redecorating with pets in mind, Gregory put the engagement ring through Franklin’s collar for a touching surprise. (We hope Franklin’s going to be the ring bearer at the wedding.)
Meanwhile, the veterinarians who care for our pets are having a particularly difficult time, as Jeremy discovered during his interview with Gwen Sherman, D.V.M., retired from the VCA Mount Kisco Veterinary Clinic.
“We’re dealing with constant sadness and disappointment in our industry, because people are coming to us with their animals that are ill,” she tells Jeremy. “And what happens is that pet owners often think they’re being financially taken advantage of. But medicine is expensive, and our overheads are massive. And, added to that, most veterinarians coming out of vet school are loaded with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, which can take their entire career to pay, because we don’t make the kind of money that M.D.s and dentists make. So veterinarians are already under tremendous stress.”
As a result, she says, “we are having a major issue with suicide in the (veterinary) industry” – this at a time when trauma psychologist Shauna Springer says in a separate story that the pandemic has created “a confluence of vulnerabilities” – loss, anxiety, fear, depression – that is a “perfect storm” for suicidal thoughts. As Americans, we like to change the channel and tough things out. But it’s time to face mental illness head on. We cannot do that, however, without support, Springer says.
Support is precisely what Sienna Sky Pet Cremation Services in Ghent, New York, offers its clients. Not only does it ensure your pet gets individualized attention at the end, we learned from owner and caretaker Susan Bandy, but it also offers grief counseling – all while benefiting its sister enterprise, The Lily Pond, a sanctuary in which special needs animals can live out their days.
Elsewhere, we take a more light-hearted look at the animal kingdom with our cover story on the wild, woolly, wacky world of presidential pets, which includes Champ and Major Biden. The two, who divide their time between the Biden family home in Delaware and the White House, have made German Shepherds hot once again – if indeed these versatile, protective working dogs ever went out of fashion – which is good news for puppy Shadow, our German Shepherd mix Pet of the Month, who’s seeking a forever home.
Our expanded What’s Trending column, which includes NOTIQ’s vegan leather desk accessories, reminds us that with vaccinations on the rise, the Greenwich Polo Club and the Spring Horse Shows at Old Salem Farm in North Salem will once again be open to the public. Planning to attend? Along with your masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing manners, you may want to bring your camera or sketchbook. Animal artistry is always popular, as Phil’s story on Brian Keith Stephens’ whimsical paintings at New London’s Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Katie’s column on panther jewelry and our look at Stephen Pace’s work at Fairfield University Art Museum attest.
Sometimes animals figure obliquely in our stories. Valmont’s L’Elixir des Glaciers has used honey in products that are luscious and luxurious. Now it draws on the DNA of sturgeon for its heavenly Essence of Gold Sturgeon Fluide Merveilleux and Crème Merveilleuse. Marvelous indeed.
When we think of Ernest Hemingway, we think of spare, muscular prose, stories of daring-do, but also, as Ken Burns’ new PBS documentary series “Hemingway” alludes, animals – bulls, cats big and small and marlins – that represent different aspects of a complex figure.
Speaking of cats, Gregg interviews Peekskill music publicist Josh Bloom, whose cat, Stella, functions as a kind of personal coach.
In some of our stories this month, animals don’t figure at all. Yonkers resident Katrina M. Adams –who set any number of milestones in her unprecedented two terms as chair and president of the White Plains-based United States Tennis Association – took time from her packed schedule to talk about her new book, “Own the Arena,” on tennis, life and leadership. We also consider a pair of marble men. Oscar Reyes, owner of Westchester and Marble Granite Works in Mamaroneck, is branching out from kitchens and bathrooms to create marble, granite and butcher block cutting boards, cheeseboards, trivets and spoon rests. Steve Cavazzi (Jeremy’s story) works on big commercial projects like the World Trade Center.
On the fashion front, we visit The Real Real, which is expanding its luxury fashion consignment business to include more brick-and-mortar shops, like the delightful one on Greenwich Avenue, as well as art and home goods. And Jeremy looks at what it takes sartorially to make “The Perfect Gentleman,” the title of a new Thames & Hudson book.
These stories should be of particular interest to those who, while liking animals, don’t necessarily want to read a whole magazine devoted to them. Birds of a different feather, we’d guess.
A 2020 YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester Visionary Award winner and a 2018 Folio Women in Media Award Winner, Georgette Gouveia is the author of “Burying the Dead,” “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” and “Seamless Sky” (JMS Books), as well as “The Penalty for Holding,” a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist (JMS Books), and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes.
Her short story “The Glass Door,” about love in the time of the coronavirus, was recently published by JMS Books and will be part of “Together apART: Creating During COVID,” an ArtsWestchester exhibit that reflects our shared and individual experiences during the pandemic through more than 250 works by 224 Hudson Valley artists (May 7 through Aug. 1). For more, visit thegamesmenplay.com.