Friday, February 1, 2013

We Know These Folks

Lois Cohen-Goldstein and husband Herman Goldstein with their dogs Keaton and Wil.

New York is going to the dogs.

The 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show returns to town in two weeks, unleashing pampered pups from the West Side piers to Madison Square Garden, hoping to fetch Best in Show.

But not every handler has their heart set on a blue ribbon. One Long Island couple is just begging to see their beloved dog again.

Lois Cohen-Goldstein didn’t just lose her Freeport, L.I., home when superstorm Sandy ravaged the region last fall. She had to send her prized pooches to safety upstate while she and her husband live in a Garden City hotel.
“It’s horrible,” says Cohen-Goldstein, 62, lingering over Facebook photos of her precious pups: five-year-old Keaton, a Tibetan Terrier, and six-year-old Wil, a Lhasa Apso.

Three feet of rushing water flooded the first floor of their house. The oil tank and hot water heater were swamped, making their residence cold, dark and dangerous.

But even worse was sending their pups to live with handlers in Cornwallville, N.Y. “They’re our four-legged, furry children. They’re family,” says Cohen-Goldstein. “It’s been very difficult.”

But when the world-famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show comes to Madison Square Garden Feb. 11, the displaced dog-lovers will have their day. Keaton is among the 2,712 purebreds competing for Best in Show.
Seeing their mop-topped pup, who’s entering the elite contest for the fourth time after winning Best Opposite Sex in his breed last year, will be better than winning a blue ribbon.

“I can’t wait,” says Cohen-Goldstein, who hasn’t seen her pets in three months.

She fears visiting her refugee dogs before she can bring them home with her will only confuse them. “Going back, just to get them all worked up, and then leaving them behind again would have upset them too much,” she says.

The Goldsteins didn’t set out to adopt a show dog. “We had always gone to Westminster as observers, so there was a fascination with showing a dog,” she says, “but we had no clue what that entailed.”