Saturday, December 12, 2009

The big night

On Saturday night in Long Beach, Calif., thousands of spectators learned of a wonderful friendship between Mandy and her Poodle.

You know Electra's story by now; she was the national winner of the Award of Canine Excellence from the American Kennel Club. You know that Electra, or as we know her, Poodle, was given to Mandy by Jane and Cathy, and our hearts barely have room for the gratitude we feel for their generosity. You know that Poodle played a key role in Mandy's recovery as Mandy endured months of chemotherapy.

What you need to know is how incredibly beautiful my bride, my little girl and her dog looked on Saturday night as they took to the ring to accept the award.

Words can't describe how proud I am of all three of them.

Friday under the lights

Some random shots from Mandy's day Friday in Long Beach:

Mandy and Poodle at the photo shoot Friday afternoon.

Finished with their close-ups.

Mandy opening one of many gifts she received.

Mandy with Ronald Rella (left) and Neil Singer of the American Kennel Club at Friday night's dinner. The AKC was incredibly generous to Mandy and our family.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Photo shoots, meet-and-greet, dinner parties ... the life of a star

They say it's not easy being a star. They've never talked to Mandy. As the dad of a diva, I can tell you that little girl can do just fine in the spotlight.

Our blonde bombshell and her canine friend, Poodle, have taken Southern California by storm. Her smile lit up Long Beach, Calif., today as preparations were completed for their appearance in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, which begins Saturday.

Mandy, Poodle, and Natalie joined the other winners of the AKC Humane Fund Awards of Canine Excellence for a dinner party Friday night. Poodle is among great company; these are some wonderful dogs that are being honored this week.

I realize that you're not here to read my turns of phrase; you're here for pictures. Here are some snaps Natalie sent back:

Poodle and Mandy on their way to their photo shoot

Poodle doing what she does best. Once a champion, always a champion.

Mandy playing tug-of-war with Sage, the ACE honoree for search and rescue. This border collie from New Mexico has worked jobs from New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, to Aruba, to post-Katrina, to Iraq. Quite a résumé, I'd say.

Mandy and Poodle, ready for the dinner party. (Unfortunately, Poodle wasn't invited to dinner.)

At 7 p.m. PST on Saturday, Natalie, Mandy and Poodle will walk into the ring at the AKC/Eukanaba National Championships to receive Poodle's honor. For those of us who are missing it live, the show will be broadcast several times on Animal Planet starting on Feb. 6. For all the show times, click here.

When I talked to Mandy on the phone this afternoon, I was struck by how much joy I heard in her voice. She's loving this experience, and after the last couple of years, well, it's great to hear a little girl just enjoying being a little girl. Even if she's being a little girl on a big stage.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mandy and Poodle's California Adventure

Ronnie here, filling in again while Natalie is off on assignment. And what a fun assignment it is.

Natalie and Mandy and Hero Dog Poodle are in Long Beach, Calif., where the spotlight will shine bright (and deservedly) on Mandy and Poodle. Poodle was the winner of the American Kennel Club's Award for Canine Excellence, in the Exemplary Companion category. You can read more about the ACE award, Poodle and all the winners here.

Natalie has been sending pictures back as fast as she can take them. Here are some highlights from the day:

You'll never see bigger smiles at 4:27 a.m. Poodle, Natalie and Mandy headed to the airport.

Poodle and Mandy, on the plane. Poodle ended up with her own seat.

At the American Girl store in Los Angeles.

Hooray for Hollywood!

As for the award, I'm comfortable with saying there are few dogs more deserving of recognition. It's not a stretch to say Poodle was a key component in helping Mandy through her treatment.

This post pretty much sums up what Poodle is to Mandy. Here's the thing to know about Mandy: At heart, she is a caretaker. And it made her heart full to be able to take care of something the way she was being taken care of while she was in treatment. Poodle helped ease Mandy's mind, which without a doubt also helped her physically.

I don't throw the "hero" term around loosely, but it's certainly fair to say Jane Myers and Cathy McGinnis meet the criteria. Jane and Cathy were Poodle's owners (and know her better by her real name, Electra), and it was Jane who gave Mandy this gift. "Eternal gratitude" is insufficient to sum up our feelings for that gift.

Natalie and Mandy will have a whirlwind couple of days Friday and Saturday -- interviews, photo shoots, the award presentation. Alannah, Zachary and I are holding down the fort back in Florida. We'll pass on the sights as we receive them.