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T.J. SIMERS

Watch your step around stars of Westminster Dog Show

The big night is approaching for 2,400 pampered dogs in New York.

February 08, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

FROM NEW YORK — Page 2 here at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which begins Monday, but first the PETaPOTTY party.

Try saying that three times in a row while having a drink and watching the floor to avoid stepping on a Shih Tzu.

The Celtics are playing across the street in Madison Square Garden, while here at the Fashion Show on the 18th floor of the Hotel Pennsylvania, hundreds of guests and dogs are dressed alike, Eli the Chihuahua wearing a wonderful silver satin fabric shirt, full vest, of course, with black and clear rhinestones.

Eli the Chihuahua, by the way, is better dressed than Myung J. Chun, The Times' videographer, who is here to document the next few days. Chun, told he'd be shooting video of the dogs in New York, initially thinks he's going to a Clippers game.

AIRFARE TO New York, cab ride, hotel room, expensive restaurants and there is no prize money at Westminster. Yet there are more than 2,400 dogs here representing 170 breeds competing for ribbons and an ego boost -- Choking Dogs for some reason not recognized as an official breed, but still California with 265 entrants to lead all states.

A beagle, Uno, won last year. A Brussels griffon, Lincoln, is favored this year. A writer, Charlotte Reed, quotes Uno extensively in something called "the blue boo," and people think Uno is special.

There are 1,000 dogs staying in the Pennsylvania, and while I wonder who is checking into these rooms next week, there's no containing the excitement of Jerry Grymek, who is wearing a name tag that identifies him as hotel "doggie concierge."

"We welcome you with open paws, ha, ha," Jerry says, obviously wanting to be a doggie concierge ever since he was a little pup.

"Oh, let me show you our doggie spaw -- ha, ha," he says, "where everyone is considered a VIP, ha, ha, very important pooch."

There isn't a blade of grass or a tree within miles of here, "but we have a loo downstairs for our guests with separate his and her areas because everyone gets their privacy," says the concierge.

Just outside the loo, there's also a "tip jar for Pepe la Pue," and while not spelled correctly, I think I know who came up with that idea. Ha, ha.

I wonder, though, who will be using the exhibition area next week, right now the floor covered in wood shavings, red fire hydrants on the left for the boys, a pink settee and glitter saw dust on the right for the girls and 1,000 dogs seemingly always on the go here.

There are exceptions, of course, and available just off the lobby, pink panties are being sold with Poise inserts.

"Pink is a little sexier," says sales lady Neena Pellegrini, and Myung Chun is nodding in agreement before we part ways.

DOGS EVERYWHERE, sticking out of purses, pushed in crates, Best in Show announced Tuesday night, but right now Page 2 only cares about Rhodonite Rolex Emberez. And I suppose, Chelsea Conway too.

Conway's the one with the drool rag. She went to UCLA but says that has nothing to do with it.

She owns Rolex, paid $16,000 to get him from England and now feeds the 165-pound behemoth raw meat. That reminds me, haven't seen Eli the Chihuahua lately.

"He probably eats about five pounds a day," she says, and it brings back memories of Andruw Jones. "We got him a lamb's shoulder here, a couple steaks, some pork, chicken and so far he's eating better than we are."

Got to keep Rolex happy and belching. He represents Dogue de Bordeaux, No. 1 in his breed and the first time such a breed will be included in judging here. For those who caught the movie "Turner & Hooch," like Hooch, the slobber just kind of rolls out of Rolex's mouth.

"Rolex has a morning ritual which involves a 29-inch head shoved in your face snorting, grunting and leaving you covered in a spray of who knows what," says Conway, and from my experience, eating lunch with Tom Lasorda is not all that different.

Now in his own way Rolex comes across like Andrew Bynum, developing, imposing but very approachable, and recovering from an earlier injury too. Like Bynum, he now has to prance around like the big dog he is.

Haven't followed Bynum all that much, so don't know, but when it came time for Rolex to take care of business, he ignored the sign and went to the ladies restroom.

"It probably smells like a men's club to him," Conway says. "I know this, Rolex gets more action than my husband.

"He's got 40 to 50 sons and daughters so far," she says, although they can only allow Rolex to mingle with his favorite girlfriend and not actually finish the deal. "Too dangerous."

Details, details, I just know this, the dirty dog's frozen sperm draws $2,500 every time there's a request, and Rolex never seems to complain.

THAT'S WHY spiritualist Annie Germani is here. She's a pet communicator, charging $1 a minute to hear a dog's complaints, wants and needs. Obviously something smells here, but maybe it's only because her booth is directly adjacent to the doggie loo.

"You'd like to retire," she says, sounding more like Sam Zell than a pet communicator. "You want some change in your life . . ."

She's not the first woman apparently to think I'm a dog.

"I communicate with humans too," she says, and she's got me there, because for the most part I just deal with athletes and coaches.

They also have a masseuse here charging $1 a minute to essentially pet your dog, a woman making matching raincoats for owner and dog, treadmills for dogs, and a Jacuzzi to help a dog unwind. Candles and a bottle of wine for an additional charge.

"Ha, ha," says the doggie concierge.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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