Ginny and Beau -- A girl
and her dog!
Reprinted Courtesy Ginny Noonan
Photo by Ina © 2003 Ina
Hillebrandt. -- Poodle Pic coning,
We will showcase the highly photogenic Ginny and Beau on separate
Mabel Bourne was a client I inherited when I bought Center Sinai Animal
Hospital in 1979. She was an elderly lady who owned an ancient apricot
poodle whom she adored. Mabel lived within a few blocks of the animal
hospital, and as she was too old to drive she would walk to the hospital
pushing a shopping cart that was specially rigged out to carry her beloved
Coquette. It was quite a sight to see -- old Mabel pushing the cart (not
the type used in the supermarkets, but the type you would use to carry
your purchases home from the market) which was piled up with pillows and
perched at the top was Coquette. I always imagined the cart to be
Coquette's personal and portable throne.
It is often said that owners and their dogs start looking alike. That was
certainly the case here. Both had off-white/rust colored hair. Mabel’s
mane, pulled back into a bun, resembled the pompoms that Coquette
sported. But perhaps the most striking similarity was the gaunt facial
look that occurs when there are no teeth in the mouth -- the toothless
pucker which accentuated the cheeks of both females.
Mabel and Coquette were frequent visitors to the hospital, in part because
of Coquette's recurrent allergies, which caused her to scratch and chew on
herself, and in part because Mabel was obsessively devoted to Coquette and
used any excuse to bring her in for exams.
As I became more familiar with Mabel, she started to share information
about her home life. I learned that Coquette was treated as a deity, and
that Mabel's entire life revolved around caring for her pet. Mabel showed
me pictures of her modest apartment and pictures of Coquette’s own area.
In essence, there was a shrine set up for her, complete with a red velvet
throne surrounded by votive candles. All the pictures that were displayed
were of Coquette, a veritable anthology of her life. As I viewed the
pictures and chatted with Mabel, the thought occurred to me -- what will
happen to this nice lady after her dog passes away? At eighteen years of
age, with organs starting to fail, Coquette could not go on forever.
Surprisingly, Coquette lived to see her twentieth birthday. Mabel
celebrated the event in grand style, lavishing on Coquette a birthday
party complete with an Alpo cake and candles, as well as party hats for
all the canine friends who had been invited.
Alas, no one lives forever, and soon afterward Coquette died in her sleep
at home. I felt so bad for Mabel. I called her everyday for the next
couple of weeks as she made arrangements for the disposition of Coquette's
body. She had decided to hire a taxidermist to bring Coquette back to her
former self, and that is exactly what happened as the restored Coquette
resumed her place atop the shrine.
Eventually, I asked Mabel if I could help her to find another dog so that
she would be able to once again have the companionship she had obviously
enjoyed and thrived on. Her answer surprised me then, although as time
has passed and I have grown older, I can relate to her concerns.
Baum," she said, "I can't get another dog ever again. I am so old myself
that any young dog that I get will outlive me and what would become of her
When you are in your early thirties, your life seems infinite and the
concept of being survived by a pet had never occurred to me. Twenty-five
years later I definitely have a different perspective. I asked Mabel if
she had any relatives or friends that might consider adopting her dog in
the event that she passed away. I learned that she had son who lived in
Orange County and some neighbors who regularly looked in on her. She gave
me the phone numbers to contact them.
When I contacted all the parties, it was gratifying to hear their
responses. They were all very concerned for Mabel's well being. But
while all had advocated for a new pet for Mabel, none realized her real
reason for declining the proposition. I informed them that she was
concerned about a new pet being orphaned, and they all volunteered to be
adoptive parents should the need eventually arise. When they told Mabel
about their intentions, she was very relieved, and consented for me to
contact the pet rescue groups to find her a new Coquette.
Life works in funny ways. No sooner had Mabel given her consent to the
procurement process, than a miracle occurred. A client walked into the
hospital with an eight week old apricot poodle and placed her on the
reception counter. As she was about to fill in the client information
sheet she paused, asked the receptionist to hold the puppy for a second
while she ran out to her car to get her wallet. She never came back! The
car sped out of the parking lot and we were left with an adorable puppy.
In fact, it could have been Coquette's clone. I'm very big on the concept
of b'shert- a Yiddish term that means, it's meant to be. It was
b'shert that this puppy was abandoned here, especially when we were
trying to get Mabel a new companion. I'm happy to say that Mabel was at
the hospital within minutes of my call to her and she proudly escorted her
new friend home in Coquette's mobile throne.
for eight more years. I didn't get to see her nearly as often, as her
young Coquette was healthy and didn't need the medical care of old
Coquette. I learned of her death from her son who called to tell me the
news and to thank me for enhancing the quality of his mother's life.
Young (well, by now middle aged) Coquette had moved to Orange County to
spend the rest of her days with Mabel's son and his family. I always love