Wednesday, March 08, 2006

February is much to short a month especially if you are busy as we are here. The big push for the month was the trip to NYC for Westminster. I had agreed to display my sweaters in the Hotel Pennsylvania and there in lies a tale.

I'll tell you, there is nothing like being in NYC in a blizzard. It is probably the only time that that bustling city is ever quiet. On Sunday morning on my way to church I was able to stand in the middle of 32nd. Street and not see a vehicle or person moving. It was so impressive. That mighty city - so quiet.

As you can see, I had a spectacular view from my hotel window. The Penn is a very old hotel without a lot of amenities, but it has a great location, across the street from Penn. Station and Madison Square Garden. It meant that I could travel to the show by train with all my sweaters in suitcases, and just cross the street to get to my destination. And speaking of trains, let me say here and now that the Red Caps who work the Amtrak Train Stations are the best. I dealt with four of them over the trip and they made the whole travel experience a joy. They go the extra mile to make sure that you and your luggage get where you're going and they do it with courtesy and charm.

My booth was located on the lower level of the hotel as part of the Green Room/Paws Mall experience. This is where all the top competing dogs come to be bathed, massaged, exercised, jogged, and understood by a psychic and where the owners come to shop for gold jewelry, portraits, hand embroidered pictures, or in my case, custom knit sweaters. The place was full of dogs, handlers, and owners all weekend because of the number of specialties and up to Tuesday when everyone who hadn't won was headed home.

There were beautiful dogs everywhere. The great dogs and those who will be great all passed by. The media was everywhere and I even was interviewed by a reporter/cameraman from Fox News 5 New York and chatted with a producer from MSNBC. But the most fun I had with the media is when I turned on Fox 5 News at Ten on Monday night and during their "New York Minute" about Westminster saw my booth and sweaters. As the Amtrak Red Cap said, "You've arrived."

So for those who want to get the inside experience of Westminster next year, without the crush of the Garden, stroll over to the Penn and go down to where the great dogs are prepared for the competition.

There was even entertainment in the form of "Leroy, the Painting Dog." Leroy is a very talented rescue dog whose owner has taught him to spell, he responds to commands that are spelled out. He's also learned to paint where he will select a color paint with his brush and paint away at the easel in a manner that would have him fitting in to any kindergarten classroom.

Of course the fun of such a trip is meeting all the really wonderful owners who visited my booth. It's an experience I love, being able to talk to fellow dog fanciers and work with them to create unique sweaters that show their love of their dog. It's also fun when they come up with questions that challenge my design skills and allow me to create new designs. They are the fire that keeps this business lively.

It also gave me a chance to talk about the forthcoming books and get input and offers of photos and articles to enhance them. The Crafty Labrador Retriever - Knits is in its final stages with the books for Newfs, Goldens, Corgis and Bichon close behind.

The Connecticut River Working Group Association shows at the Big E in W. Springfield, MA will be the next time I'll have my sweater booth out. It's on the weekend of March 18 & 19. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

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