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Thursday, 07 March 2013 11:22

Joey... Top Banana at The Garden

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Michael Dougherty had the honour of judging Best In Show at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Show. This year saw the introduction of a Reserve Best In Show award and in-keeping with the American tradition of showmanship, this was announced in advance of the ‘big one’.

To a hushed Madison Garden Arena and to millions of Americans watching on live television, not including all those who were monitoring the event on social media and the internet, Reserve Best In Show was the Old English Sheepdog, Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, owned by Colton & Heather Johnson. ‘Swagger’ was clearly popular with the audience who responded with a roar of approval. Best In Show was the Affenpinscher, GCH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari, handled by Ernesto Lara and co-owned by Zoila ( Tina ) Truesdale and Mieke Cooymans. The roof almost came off with the cheering and applause for ‘Joey’, a favourite of both the audience and yours truly, as everyone rose from their seats to show their approval.

The most significant change to Westminster this year was the fact that breed judging took place at New York’s Piers 92/94 located on West 55th Street and the West Side Highway (12th Avenue) adjacent to the International Cruise Terminal during the day and group judging took place at Madison Square Garden on 31st Street and Seventh Avenue. Faced with the prospect of exhibitors and spectators commuting between the venues and the nearby Affinia, New Yorker and Pennsylvannia Hotels traditionally used by visitors and judges, Westminster laid on a fleet of buses such as those used at the NEC which ran a shuttle service from 5am until almost midnight between midtown and the Piers. Cindy and I decided that we would not take a cab from our hotel direct to the Piers but travel along with the exhibitors and dogs from the central pick-up point adjacent to the Garden. It was raining quite heavily on Day 1 and we were dreading the prospect of queuing to board buses and were pleasantly surprised to find that there were multiple, large coaches waiting for us. The journey, even in early morning traffic, took just over 25 minutes and we emerged at the sheltered drop-off point to be greeted by a friendly Westminster representative offering information to everyone as to where to go next.

 

Masses of space

 

Piers 92 and 94 were joined by a heated, marquee and contained 4 rings and 8 rings respectively with most benching in the respective buildings. Unlike Madison Square Garden the Piers provided masses of space for benching and the preparation of exhibits. On Day 1 Toys and Non-Sporting breeds were shown in Pier 92, a long, rectangular building with floor to ceiling glass and lots of exits onto the pier itself which enable dogs to be exercised safely outside as opposed to the small sawdust-filled pens that were provided in the past at the Garden. The downside was that, as a consequence of Hurricane Sandy having taken out the electrics of the entire venue, all electricity was provided by external generators which powered everything onsite. This resulted in the escalators being out of operation and the only means of access and egress to Pier 92 was via two large lifts which held almost 100 people. These were filled to capacity for most of the time and at peak periods substantial queues built up. Friends of ours had to queue for over an hour at the end of the day when dogs were finally released. It was also extremely cold both days and, despite there being large blow heaters, many people were insufficiently dressed to tolerate the drop in temperature whilst having to queue in the covered marquee to gain access to Pier 92. This was a one-off experience as next year the electrics will have been replaced and the internal escalators will be fully functional. Pier 94 resembled Halls 2 & 3 of the NEC, benching being in one part of the L-shaped building and 8 rings in the other. On Day 1 Hounds & Herding were located here. Seating was at a premium as only one row per ring was provided and, unlike the Garden, there was no tiered seating which provided an overall view of several rings. This presented no problem for Michael Gadsby and persons of his stature but for those who could be perceived as vertically challenged it did pose challenges. There were no skyboxes for celebrities and VIPs to entertain guests here and so we missed out on being invited for cocktails and canapés by various canine personalities whilst watching judging taking place ‘down on the floor’ as in previous years.

Westminster has had the unique characteristic of allowing only Champions to compete since 1992. This year saw the introduction of Class Dogs. For those of you who are not familiar with the American show scene this meant that in addition to the Best Of Breed Class, which is restricted to Champions and Grand Champions, there were listed Open Dog and Open Bitch plus Bred By Exhibitor Dog and Bred By Exhibitor Bitch Classes. Not all breeds had these classes appear in the catalogue. The results may also have puzzled some of you as there were no Awards Of Merit as in previous years. This was due to the fact that there were Class Dogs competing and therefore a Select Dog and Select Bitch was awarded, our equivalent of Reserve Best Of Sex. Although it was anticipated that as many as 3,500 dogs could compete at the 2013 show, the entry was 2,721 and was the largest entry in 15 years. 187 breeds and varieties were scheduled and the highest entry was made by Golden Retrievers which attracted 6 exhibits. Five breeds shared the lowest entry of one: Plott, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, Kuvasz, Norwegian Lundehund and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Two newly recognised breeds by the AKC were appearing for the first time: the Treeing Walker Coonhound which had 13 entries, bringing the amount of native American Coonhound varieties to 5, and the Russell Terrier which had 15 entries.

 

Severe snowstorm

 

In the days leading up to the show the area around New York had been subjected to one of the most severe snowstorms in recent times. This resulted in New York’s airports being closed to domestic and international traffic over a couple of days. Cindy and I were originally scheduled to fly out of Heathrow on Friday morning and were contacted by Virgin Atlantic who informed us that our flight had been cancelled and that there were no flights to Boston or New York that day or the next. This resulted in a major panic situation in the Band/ McCarthy household as, not only did we face the prospect of not getting to New York in time for the show but it looked as if we would miss the last performance of Barry Manilow on Broadway for which we had prime seats for the Saturday. Despite calls to various airlines we unable to secure seats to anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard for Friday or Saturday although we were able to obtain seats on Virgin Atlantic on Sunday. Cindy was bereft that for the second consecutive year we had missed a Manilow Concert and, on this occasion, would end up several hundred pounds out of pocket! Even worse, during the course of Friday and Saturday we were hearing horror tales from friends in Connecticut and Massachusetts where all traffic had been banned from the roads as an emergency measure. They were fearful that they too would miss some shows in New York over the weekend and it was looking extremely unlikely that they would make it even to Westminster. As things transpired we flew out as re-scheduled and our friends were able to travel to New York as roads were snowploughed. Many exhibitors and spectators were not so fortunate. 

Familiar faces from home that we either spotted or chatted to during the first day were Mike Gadsby and Jason Lynn, Ian Gabriel, Lisa Bridges who had all made it relatively unscathed, as had Helen Harris of  Beauvallon Old English Sheepdog fame and husband, Gary, who had travelled out on the same aircraft as we did. Bert Easdon was making his way to the Peke Ring as he had a dog he had co-bred entered which was tipped to take the breed. Whilst watching Havanese judging Frank Kane tapped me on the shoulder. He was visiting the venue in advance of his judging engagement next day. We also managed a quick chat with Peter Green, perhaps Wales’ most popular expat, after his judging of Chihuahuas and Min Pins. A familiar face we missed seeing was that of Carrie Russell-Smith, prohibited from flying following recent foot surgery. Her partner, photographer par excellence, Lisa Croft-Elliott, was to be seen as she flitted from Ring to Ring and Pier to Pier photographing clients’ dogs as well as providing the superb photographs accompanying this report and previous features published in Our Dogs. Prior to our departure she had contacted me to confirm that she had dinner reservations after Best In Show as has become a Westminster tradition and that we would be having dinner with Ernesto Lara, one of America’s top handlers, his girlfriend, Angela Lloyd who handled the Scottish Deerhound, Hickory, to BIS in 2011, Sarah Montague, Senior Producer of WYNC Radio in New York amongst others. 

After a quick return to our hotel to shower, change and meet up with friends for dinner we made our way to Madison Square Garden for the first evening of Group Judging. The large arena was laid out for the show with rows of breed names in alphabetical order on opposite sides of the Main Ring. Feedback from Press colleagues on the events earlier was very positive. It was clear that David Frei, Westminster’s Director Of communications, along with his right-hand lady, Linda Duane, had pulled off another successful operation. Linda was assisted at both locations by Ranny Green from Seattle and together they make an exceptionally efficient team in the Press Office. I am sure they must have utilised some form of teleportation just like in Star Trek as they managed to replicate the Press Offices in both Pier 92 and the Garden and never appeared flustered even when under severe pressure. I wish I knew their secret! If they could bottle it and franchise it they would be guaranteed lifelong financial security!

Judges and canine luminaries dressed in black tie and glitzy dresses began to take their seats in the ringside area cordoned off for their exclusive use. For the first time in my dozen visits to the Garden the national anthem was sung live as opposed to being played over the sound system. Ronan Tynan of the world famous Irish Tenors sang a moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner before the judge of the first Group was introduced to the audience. Luc Boileau of Burlington, Wisconsin assessed the Hound Group. From an initial 30 dogs, he shortlisted 8: the Afghan Hound, the American Foxhound, the Basset Hound, the Bluetick Coonhound, the Dachshund (Longhaired), the Harrier, the Otterhound and the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. After moving them around the ring once again with the assembled crowd cheering for their favourite he pointed to his Group Winner, the American Foxhound, GCH Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box, co-owned by Ellen Charles and Lisa Miller, who also handled her. ‘Jewel’ was the No 1 Hound in 2012 with 34 Best In Shows and 88 Group Wins and No 8 in the Top Rankings All Breeds. Group 2 was the Basset Hound GCH Topsfield-Sanchu Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, co-owned by Claudia Orlandi & Clair Steidel, No 7 Hound with 8 Best In Show and 48 group wins. Group 3 was the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, GCH Soletrader Maggie May, owned by Donna moore. She was the No 16 Hound last year  with 2 Best In Shows and 16 Group Wins and her co-breeder is our very own Gavin Robertson. Group 4 was the Otterhound, GCH Aberdeens Under The Influence, co-owned by Jack, Andy & Jason McIlwaine, Top Otterhound in 2012.

 

Top Affenpinscher

 

The second Group to be judged was the Toy Group. Dennis McCoy of Apex, North Carolina, was the judge. There are 23 breeds scheduled in this Group and Mr McCoy reduced this number to 8: the Affenpinscher, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Maltese, the Miniature Pinscher, the Papillon, the Pekingese, the Pomeranian and the Pug. All 8 were allowed to show themselves to their best advantage before he pointed to his Group Winner, the Affempinscher, GCH Banana Joe V Tani Kazari, handled by Ernesto Lara and co-owned by Zoila (Tina) Trusedale and Mieke Cooymans, who had come from Holland to see him compete at what will be his final show as he is retiring after Westminster. ‘Joey’ has had a phenomenal show career, being the Top Winning Affenpinscher of all time. He was a multiple BIS & Group Winning dog in Europe prior to coming to the USA 3 years ago. He was Top Toy in 2012 and No 5 All Breeds with 37 Best In Shows and 128 Group Wins. He even managed a quick visit to Crufts where he was BOB under breed specialist Linda McGill of the Cransbere Affenpinschers. Group 2 was the Miniature Pinscher, GCH Marlex Classic Red Glare, co-owned by Leah Monte and Armando Angelbello, who was No 2 Toy and No 6 All Breeds with 30 Best In Shows and 102 Group Wins. Group 3 was the Pekingese, Ch Yakee Easily Persuaded, co-owned by Sandra Middlebrooks and David Fitzpatrick, both co-owners of last year’s BIS Pekingese Malachy. David also handled ‘Rodger’ who was No 3 Pekingese last year and was bred in the UK by Bert Easdon who could be seen watching beaming from ear to ear. Group 4 was the Pug, GCH Hill Country’s Tag I’m It, owned by Carolyn Kock, who was the No 2 Pug and No 10 Toy last year with 10 Best In shows and 40 Group Wins.  

The Non-Sporting Group was the third Group to be judged and Florence Males of Pleasant Hill, California took centre stage to assess the BOBs. She shortlisted 7: the Bichon Frise, the Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Dalmatian, the French Bulldog, the Standard Poodle and the Tibetan Spaniel. Her choice of Group Winner was the Bichon Frise, GCH Vogelflight’s Honor To Pillowtalk, co-owned by Ellen Charles, Matt & Paula Abbott, Lori Kornfeld and Mary & Vogel. She was handled by Lisa Bettis and was Top Bichon and the No 5 Non-Sporting in 2012 with 6 Best In Shows and 69 Group Wins.  Group 2 was the Standard Poodle, GCH Brighton Lakeridge Encore, owned by Toni & Martin Sosnoff. She was the No 2 Standard last year in addition to being No 2 Non-Sporting and No 14 overall in the Top Dog Rankings with 23 Best in Shows and 66 Group Wins. Group 3 was the French Bulldog, GCH Bandog Bayou’s The Warrior, owned by Nancy Shaw. ‘Griffin’ has a high profile in the media as Frenchies seem to be on every corner in NY and he was a real crowd pleaser. He was No 2 Frenchie in addition to being no 13 Non-Sporting with 2 Best In Shows and 26 Group wins. Group 4 was the Tibetan Spaniel, GCH Kan Sing’s Tenzin, owned by Martha Feltenstein, who was No 2 in the Breed and No 11 non-sporting with 1 Best In Show and 26 Group wins.

The final Group of the night to be judged was the Herding group and the judge was Charles Trotter of Carmel, California. There were 26 breeds to be assessed and he reduced these to 8: the Bearded Collie, the Beauceron, the Border Collie, the Canaan Dog, the German Shepherd Dog, the Old English Sheepdog, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Puli (Hungarian Puli). After allowing them to gait around the main ring to a rapturous audience, he selected as his Group Winner the Old English Sheepdog, Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, owned by Colton and Heather Johnson. ‘Swagger’ was handled by his co-owner and co-breeder Colton Johnson and was a ‘Class Dog’ who had been the single entry in the Bred By Exhibitor Class and, still only 20 months old and not having attained his championship title, had gone on to beat the 19 champions entered in the Best Of Breed Class to be awarded Best Of Breed from breed judge, the internationally-renowned James G. Reynolds who judged BIS here in 2006. This was only his fourth show! Group 2 was the Puli, GCH Cordmaker Rumpus Bumpus, co-owned by Jacqueline Beaudoin, Sue Huebner and Franco Licciardi. ‘Siggy’ was bred in Australia by talented Sue Huebner out of a UK Catsun-bred dam and was handled by his co-owner Jacqui. He was No 1 Puli & No 4 Herding last year with 5 Best In Shows and 14 Group Wins. Group 3 was the Beauceron, GCH Beowolf Rimes Des Monts Du Lac, co-owned by Paul and Joanne Prager, who was Top Dog in the breed and No 11 Herding Dog with 1 Best In Show and 27 Group Wins. Group 4 was the Canaan Dog, GCH Pleasant Hill Magnum of Samara owned by Pamela Stacey Rosman who was Top Canaan Dog in 2012.

As is traditional, the Empire State Building was resplendent, bathed in Purple and Gold lighting, the colours of Westminster, for all to see as they exited Madison Square Garden on a cold but clear night. 

Next morning on the way to the Piers by coach I had a word with Bert Easdon and David Fitzpatrick, who were still on a high from Rodger’s Group 3 the previous evening. David is such an interesting person and we talked about Rodger & also about Malachy’s BIS win last year and speculated on the potential BIS this year.

Terriers had the whole of Pier 92 and Sporting and Working had Pier 94. The layout now seemed more familiar and we spent more time (and even more money) at the various vendors’ booths in a large spacious area. It was good to have a chat with the charming Russian, Eugene Yerusalimsky, looking well following a recent spell of ill health. I always learn some fascinating facts when speaking to him and this time we talked about Black Russian Terriers and Cane Corsos mostly. He is looking forward to visiting Crufts and, should you get the opportunity, have a chat with him. It was very difficult to see all of my various favourite breeds as they seemed to clash & the rings were so far apart…….the same downside as the day before. I did see Beth Sweigart judging a large entry of Labradors and managed to see quite a bit of Frank Kane assessing English Cockers. Judging was over in Pier 92 by lunchtime, which meant that the area became virtually deserted apart from exhibitors who were required to remain until 5pm.

 

Memorable performance

 

After a relaxing bath at the hotel we met up with friends for dinner and then took our seats in the Main Ring at Madison Square Garden for the remaining Group Judging and Best In Show. Tonight the National Anthem was again sung live and this time it was the turn of the Harlem Gospel Choir, America’s Premier Choir. It was another memorable performance but I missed not hearing it sung by a full arena of patriotic Americans.

The first of the 3 Groups to be judged was the Sporting Group. Karen Wilson of Sperryville, Virginia, was introduced to the audience. 30 Best Of Breeds came into the ring and these were reduced to 7: the Pointer, the German Wirehaired Pointer, the Golden Retriever, the English Setter, the Clumber Spaniel, the (American) Cocker Black and the English Springer Spaniel. The crowd were really hyped up as they cheered every dog as they moved once again before Ms. Wilson selected as her Group Winner the German Wirehaired Pointer, GCH Mr View’s Rispsnortersilvercahrm, owned by Victor Malzoni Jr. ‘Oakley’ was handled by Phil Booth and was No 1 GWP, No 1 Sporting & No 1 Top Dog all Breeds in 2012 with 73 Best In Shows and 152 Group Wins to his credit. He is the Top Winning GWP of all time and was a clear favourite of the audience. Group 2 was the (American) Cocker Spaniel lack, GCH Casblanca’s Thrilling Seduction, co-owned by Bruce Van Deman, Carolee Douglas, Mary Walker and Linda Moore. He was Top Black (American) Cocker and No 3 Sporting and No 12 Top Dog with 30 Best In Show and 65 Group Wins. Group 3 was the English Springer Spaniel, GCH Wynmoor Champagne Supernova, co-owned by Celie Florence, Beth Fink, Ken McWilliams, Erin Kerfoot & Dolores Streng. He was No 1 ESS, No 2 Top Sporting and No 2 Top  Dog All breeds with 63 Best In Shows and 147 Group Wins. Group 4 was the Clumber Spaniel, GCH Clussexx Collaboration with Traddles, co-owned by Wayne Holbrook, Beth Dowd, Missy Capone, Jeane Haverick and Adriana and Patricia Jarmillo, Top Clumber and No 11 Sporting with 7 Best In Shows and 31 Group Wins.

The second Group was the Working Group and this was judged by Robert Vandiver of Simpsonville, South Carolina. There were 28 dogs for him to assess and he asked 8 to remain behind: the Boxer, the Dobermann Pinscher, the Giant Schnauzer, the Great Dane, the Kuvasz, the Portuguese Water Dog, the Rottweiler and the Samoyed. Once again the crowd cheered for their favourite dog and Mr Vandiver selected as his Group Winner the Portuguese Water Dog, GCH Claircreek Impression De Matisse,  co-owned by Milan Lint, Peggy Helming and Donna Gottdecker. ‘Matisse’ is only 20 months old and was handled by Michael Scott. He was No 3 PWD last year and had 1 Best in Show and 5 Group Wins and comes from the Pouchcove kennel famous for its Newfoundlands and Portuguese Water Dogs. Group 2 was the Dobermann Pinscher, GCH Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici, co-owned by Suzy and Dick Lundy and Jocelyn and Kevin Mullins. She won the Group here last year and was Top Dobermann, No 1 Working and No 3 Top Dog in 2012 with 46 Best In Shows and 116 Group Wins. Group 3 was the Boxer, GCH Winfall I Dream Of Style, co-owned by Cheryl and Keith Robbins, George and Barbara Adkins, Tina Porter, Lee Stanton & Jorge Pinson, who was No 2 Boxer, No 4 Working and No 16 Top Dog last year with 23 Best In Shows and 50 Group Wins. Group 4 was the Rottweiler, GCH Chancellor Flirt’s Hi Flyin’ Gladiator, owned by Wendi Lewellen who was Top Rottweiler and No 9 Top Working Dog with 1 Best In Show and 28 Group Wins. It was amusing to note that, whilst photographs were being taken, the Terrier Group rosettes had been awarded erroneously to the winners and the photos were hastily re-done.

The final Group of the night was the Terrier Group which was judged by Mr. Jay Richardson of St. Charles, Illinois.  From the 30 Best Of Breeds which entered the Main Ring he asked 8 to remain: the Border Terrier, the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Wire Fox Terrier, the Lakeland Terrier, the Russell Terrier, the Scottish Terrier, the Welsh Terrier and the West Highland White Terrier. Once they had all moved again, he selected as his Group Winner the Smooth Fox Terrier, GCH Slyfox Sneak’s A Peek, owned by James Smith and handled by Eddie Boyes, a respected Terrier man. ‘Adam’ won the Group last year and came back to challenge for the crown and was successful. He is a striking dog with one side of his face black and the other white, giving the impression that he is wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask, and is currently No 3 in the Breed with 1 Best In Show and three Group Wins. Group 2 was the Wire Fox Terrier, GCH Afterall Painting The Sky, co-owned by Victor Malzoni Jr, Torie Steele, Scott and Mary Olund and Diane Ryan. This dog was tiped to win the Group and was handled superbly by Gabriel Rangel. He was No 1 Wire, No 1 Terrier and No 4 Top Dog in 2012 with 39 Best In Shows and 98 Group Wins. Group 3 was the Border Terrier, GCH Meadowlake Simply Sinful, co-owned by Karen Fitzpatrick, Joyce Wilkinson & David Fitzpatrick, the No 1 Border and No 6 Terrier last year with 4 Best In Shows and 53 Group Wins. Group 4 was the Russell Terrier, GCH Goldsand’s Columbus, co-owned by  Mark Ulrich and Christina Areskough, No 1 Russell Terrier and No 10 Terrier last year. This breed was making its debut at the show, having been developed originally in Australia according to a delighted handler and this dog was bred in Sweden.

 

Lull in the proceedings

 

There was a lull in the proceedings allowing photographs to be taken of the Group Winners. For the first time in my attendance at the Garden there was a massive, spontaneous Mexican Wave performed by the audience which lasted for several rotations of the arena. The BIS podium was put in place and, surprisingly, there was nowhere marked for the Reserve Best in Show to stand  alongside BIS. Perhaps this should be addressed by Westminster in the future? The Best In Show judge, Michael Dougherty from Escondido, California was introduced. He is only the second BIS judge to have competed in Junior Showmanship at this show. The Group Winners were introduced individually, not in the order in which they were judged but by the speed with which they could gait without being overtaken by the dog following… a really thoughtful method. First into the ring to thunderous applause was the Sporting Group Winner, the German Wirehaired Pointer, followed by the Hound Group Winner, the American Foxhound. Next came the Working Group Winner, the Portuguese Water Dog and the Herding Group Winner, the Old English Sheepdog. Then came the Terrier Group Winner, the Wire Fox Terrier, the Non-Sporting Group Winner, the Bichon Frise and the Toy Group Winner, the Affenpinscher. The atmosphere was truly electric as each dog was moved around the ring individually. 

As all the Group Winners lined up in advance of the announcement of which lucky dogs would be declared Reserve And Best In Show, you could literally have heard a pin drop. Mr. Dougherty was now wired up for sound to enable his decision to be relayed across the television network and advised everyone that he would be awarding Reserve Best In Show first. He then announced the Old English Sheepdog, ‘Swagger’ and the audience erupted! Next came a few nail-biting moments when we all speculated which dog would be given the ultimate accolade and he announced  Best in Show… the Affenpinscher, ‘Joey’ to screams of joy immediately above and to the right of where Cindy and I were sitting as Tina Truesdale and Mieke Cooymans reacted to the decision. Ernesto Lara scooped up Joey into the air and showed him to a delighted audience. It was a first for the Affenpinscher breed to go BIS at Wesminster and Joey is assured a place in the history books.

 

After show glitterati

 

After the lengthy session with the photographers where Joey amused everyone as he barked animatedly… little did they know he just wanted to get to another of his best friends, Carlos de la Torre, an assistant of Ernesto whom he adores!... and a period of interviews with the press, Joey, his handler, Ernesto and his co-owners Tina and Mieke were whisked away to be introduced to the after show glitterati at a nearby party. We made our way across to the Affinia Hotel to our usual table in Niles Restaurant to have dinner and celebrate Joey’s win. Bert Easdon was finishing dinner with David Fitzpatrick and Kimberley Pastella-Calvacca, a well-known professional handler. Peter Green and Beth Sweigart were at an adjacent table with friends.  Shortly afterwards there was a round of applause from the bar and into the restaurant as Ernesto and his girlfriend, Angela, came down to join us at Lisa Croft-Elliott’s table. Also dining were Sarah Montague, from a local radio station, Lisa Bridges, who had been assisting Lisa throughout the show. A few minutes later, another round of applause announced the arrival of Tina Truesdale and Mieke Cooymans, accompanied by Tina’s husband, Bill. Then the party started... Champagne flowed for another couple of hours and an extremely good time was had by all present. Ernesto and Angela left with Cindy and myself shortly before 3am. 

A few hours later, Joey and Ernesto commenced a full day of media appointments: an appearance on breakfast television, opening the New York Stock Exchange, a photo opportunity at the Top of the Empire State Building, a steak lunch on a silver platter at Sardi’s restaurant, a visit to Donald Trump’s offices on 5th Avenue and much more. What a truly amazing end to this little character’s show career. He has spent the last 3 years with Ernesto and, if I had a magic wand and could grant one wish, it would be that he stays in the USA with Ernesto to live with his best friend.

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