|With Jen Reeder, dog writers association president|
She offered free food, a reporter's dream!
Only kidding, sort of, because the banquet cost more money than I wanted to spend. It was the content of the email itself that moved me to pack up my dress clothes and do something difficult for a freelancer: get dressed up.
She wrote, "Congratulations on winning DWAA's inaugural Harrison Stephens Inspirational Feature Award for 'A Favor Returned.' It is a truly beautiful, moving piece. Harrison Stephens was my grandfather, and my parents sponsored the award. All three of us wept reading your story and felt he would have been delighted and honored that your piece won. I wish he could have read it!
Anyhow, my parents were asking if you would be attending the DWAA banquet on Feb. 10 in New York. If you're considering coming, they would like to pay for your banquet ticket so that you can attend if you like. "
It coincided with the Westminster Dog Show, held across the street at Madison Square Garden.
So when we walked in the lobby, we saw a strange sight of dogs milling around with their people. At first I thought they were going to attend the dog writers' banquet, and I had a vision of tables set for dogs and people, bringing to mind a memorable dining companion that Carrie Bradshaw has during her Paris visit in Sex in the City.
We did have the pleasure of sitting at the AKC table with my editor from Family Dog, the AKC's magazine and the one where my story about Maddie ran. (Refresher: It was about how my kids and I helped Maddie heal after she was hit by a car, and how she helped me heal after I was hit by a leukemia relapse.)
The editor brought her dog, a well-behaved big dog – a Leonburger – named Emily. The dog didn't have her own chair, though. She lay down quietly next to the table except for when she being lavished with attention.
I never saw so many people passionate about dogs, and it was a lot of fun to be around them.
"America's Veterinarian," Dr. Marty Becker, gave an informative and entertaining keynote speech, and David Frei, the voice of the Westminster Dog Show until last year, gave a gracious and entertaining speech after being inducted into the Dog Writers Association Hall of Fame.
My award came with a $300 check. Katie asked me how I was going to share it with Maddie. I started by getting her a soothing oatmeal bath at the groomer. Next time I go to Dave's to get her dog food, I'll come up with something extra special.
Here is a link to the digital version of the story. The photos by my colleague and faux cousin Michael Gordon are also prize-worthy. It was so much fun working together, like back in the day at The Republican and its predecessors.
I have another dog story in the works. Who knows, maybe I'll become a dog writer.