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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

$14,000 Dog Dress Brings Attention to Animal Rescue

Once again, I’ve journeyed from California to frigid (and snowy) New York City for the Westminster Kennel Club’s 137th Annual All Breed Dog Show. As a warm-up to the intense canine competition, I attended the less cut-throat yet no less fabulous New York Pet Fashion Show (NYPFS) at the legendary Hotel Pennsylvania (lodging site for many Westminster competitors).

Having previously covered this event for petMD (see: Live from New York — The Westminster Dog Show), I was enthused to be invited back to observe some fabulous canine and human couture and to learn of the assortment of novel pet products.

Presented by TropiClean and produced by Oehler Media Productions (publisher of Cesar's Way magazine), the show fused fashion and philanthropy to benefit animal welfare by supporting Animal Haven Shelter of NYC. Maria Milito, animal advocate and Q104.3 radio personality, MC’d the show to keep the models hitting their marks and posing for clusters of eager camera lenses.

A bevy of large to small, thick to thin, and minimally to extravagantly adorned humans and canines strutted their stuff on the runway. Some model pairs walked with the human in tow and featured the canine in the lead (to get the best access to the photographers, of course).

The models were decked out in Roaring Twenties outfits and included my dog trainer pal, Nikki Moustaki (award winning writer and founder of the Pet Postcard Project) and her canine companion Pearl. Moustaki and Pearl represented Troff Pouch, which was the "Official Hydration Sponsor of the 2013 NYPFS." Troff is an amazing product that strives to promote the best health and well-being of all pets through providing owner-determined and safe hydration.

Other well-known models included:

  • Lassie, the world famous Collie, who is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Lassie series of television, film, and book projects
  • Shanna Olson, Ms. California 2013
  • Richard Pryor Jr., actor and son of comedian Richard Pryor
  • Justin Silver of CBS’s Dogs in the City
  • Nency Escamilla, Ms. New York 2011
  • Harrison Forbes, celebrity pet expert

This year, the show had the somewhat dubious distinction of featuring The Most Expensive Gala Dog Dress Ever Made. The dress is formally titled the Centauras, reportedly costs $14,000, and was created by designer Kiki Hamann. It’s a "one of a kind couture gown emblazoned with black diamond Swarovski crystals over four layers of Valentino Shantung, Gazar, Peau de Soie, and Organza textured silks in midnight black, lined in four layers of obsidian Tulle, heavily beaded, completely hand-stitched, and finished with touches of Organza flowers."

Learning of such an extravagant item made me consider the value these shows have in promoting the cause of animal welfare. Fortunately, many rescue pets are helped by the funds generated for the Animal Haven Shelter of NYC. Yet the thought of someone purchasing a $14,000 dog dress makes me cringe, as there are so many animals (and humans) in our world that could benefit from that dollar amount being put toward medical care, nutrition, and shelter.

On a positive note, the media attention focused on the Centauras likely increased the general public’s awareness of the ongoing needs of animal welfare organizations, like the Animal Haven Shelter of NYC. Additionally, two of the rescue’s dogs took to the runway in search of their forever homes after having undergone a complete makeover, thanks to the styling skills of groomer Jorge Bendersky.

Up next is an intense two days attending the world’s premiere canine contest, which strives to choose the best example of a particular breed. I will be hunting for a variety of pet interest stories and will be updating the dog loving world with posts on @Patrick Mahaney Twitter and Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian: Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets.

Check back soon to see my wrap-up of the 2013 show. I wasn’t so keen about 2012’s winner, the Pekingese, as you’ll see from my petMD article from then, What’s Breed Got to Do With It? 

What did you think about the choice of last year’s canine champion? Who are you pulling for this year?

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Motivi Fashion / via Flickr

Comments  15

Leave Comment
  • vulgar excess
    02/12/2013 09:52am

    I find this so offensive. Vulgarity to several orders of magnitude. Does some of this money actually end up doing some good for the animals? Perhaps. How much, actually? I am skeptical about this ego-tripping.

    When I was a child I tried to put clothing on the family cat. I don't think the cat liked this, but she was gentle enough about the whole thing. I would not do that now, of course, having grown up. Anyone who is responsible for buying a $14000 dog dress has, IMHO, not grown up. Animals are not there for our ego-gratification, nor are family, spouses, children, etc. While writing this, I am looking over at the couch and seeing a rather large mound of blue-grey fur sleeping placidly, and thinking that I just want to see that my furry friend continues to be healthy and happy and well cared for. He returns this concern many times over.

    Please, let us all live reasonably and have values that make some sort of sense.

  • 02/20/2013 02:58pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    As I indicated in the article, the purpose of the show is to generate awareness of and raise funds for the Animal Haven Shelter of NYC. The dress is not sold at the event, it's value merely helps raise awareness of the event and therefore the cause benefitted by the event.
    I hope to see you back again on my PetMD Daily Vet page.
    Dr. PM

  • Westminster
    02/12/2013 07:31pm

    I have taped it so I can at least see the best of breed Flat Coated Ret. in the always popular broom closet. Actually all of us FC owners are quite happy the breed is so low on the AKC list. This insures good and responsible breeding and none of the breed of the month syndrome that causes an explosion of unwanted puppies.

    Dr. Mahaney, I agree with you on last year's BoS. With all the problems the breed has? What next in BoS, English Bulldog?

    Have a great time, and keep an eye out for black dogs with wagging tails in a broom closet. Leilani

  • 02/20/2013 03:07pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    I'm pleased to see that a SOMEWHAT more conformationally sound breed, the Affenpinscher, won this year's event. I cringed when I saw the Pekingese among the top Toy Group breeds.
    I love seeing the Flat Coated Retreiver. They are a breed I don't commonly see in my practice. Perhaps their lack of massive popularity will be to their advantage with their genetics.
    I hope to see you back again on my PetMD Daily Vet page.
    Dr. PM

  • Excess
    02/12/2013 11:44pm

    I agree that $14k to clothe a pooch seems a bit over-the-top.

    However, I must admit that if I had too much money to burn, after I made generous donations to my favorite pet non-profits, I would probably put collars on my critters with real gems. After all, black cats would look stunning in sapphires or maybe emeralds, wouldn't they?

    I'd have to have a whole lot of money to burn before I'd do that, though.

  • 02/13/2013 12:33am

    Very nice, but my cat's green eyes are arguably as beautiful as an emerald.

  • 02/20/2013 03:14pm

    Glad to hear of your interest in donating your excess funds to animal welfare causes.
    Yet, fancy-jeweled collars would only be when you have LOTS of extra cash and all your financial obligations have been met.
    Who would provide the insurance for your precious-gemed collared pets?
    Dr. PM

  • 02/21/2013 12:09am

    Who needs insurance when you have gazillions of excess cash? Just write a check for Fido and Fluffy's medical needs.

  • Eastminster Dog Show
    02/13/2013 03:48am

    You know I simply do not receive any enjoyment in watching the show. Never did.

    This is a show of all breed dogs which most likely came from breeders. I bet not a single one came from a shelter. There is a disconnect. This is not to say I am against breeders. It is my assessment as a marketing professional that the Westminster show with their fancy pure bred dogs and $14K dollar dog dress do little to advance the adoption of shelter pets.

    Why not have a show and contest for dogs that came from shelters!!! I'm shocked no one has started one.

    Our country faces an epidemic of homeless pets. A show/competition dedicated to mixed breeds or pure breds adopted from shelters would have greater impact. Now is the time. THE EASTMINSTER DOG SHOW. There's your title. Oh I could go on and on with ideas...

  • 02/20/2013 03:16pm

    There were a variety of mixed breed dogs on the runway that night.
    Additionally, the animal rescue organization benefitting from the show had two dogs that were up for adoption that appeared on the runway. I'm unsure of the status of their adoption.
    As always, thank you for your comments.
    Dr. PM

  • Enough
    02/15/2013 02:02am

    I find it particularly interesting that everyone else becomes the humanitarian when it comes to other peoples money?

    As an engineer, and a person who's strived to work hard since I was 15 years old, dean list, among other interest, let me share my humble opinion here.

    Society somehow has decided to punish and criticize individuals who work for what they obtain.... no hand outs requested.

    Individuals who've worked earnestly for what they elect to stimulate the economy with, however small or large this may be, is their choice. If someone is asking for the government to fund their interest, perhaps there is room for criticism here, but how an individual chooses to spend their personal money is their financial decision and prerogative.

    Somehow society has glamorize criminals, and ridicules honest success? This is the wrong persecution. Enough of this.... this is what made America the once known "Land of Opportunity. If you prefer to spend your money on other interest... donate 14,000.00 for a dress, if you have the means, well, then please don't hesitate to do so.

    No one asked if any of the value of this dress was donated to a charity, now did they? Does someone need to pat their back to seek approval? Seriously... seems there's an awful sense of bitterness for something that is headlined, and dismissing the interest of what this event was for... raising money for the Save Haven Animal Shelter.... without participants willing to be your punching bag, money isn't raised, and homeless animals remain neglected.

    This certainly makes an individual who's ridiculed for participating and putting their very best foot forward, wearing the finest they have to pay homage and respect to the organizers of the very special cause reconsider their contributions.

    Shame on you, the writer, for writing something so negative... you are out of line, and shame on the presumptuous resentments. Now... who's grown up? If a person can afford this, then so be it.

  • 02/20/2013 03:21pm

    Thank you for your comments.
    The show was not an event to sell the $14,000 dress. Featuring the dress helps to raise awareness of the cause of animal welfare and benefit the Animal Haven Shelter of NYC.
    If someone wants to buy the dress for their pet (or frame it and put it on their wall), that's certainly their choice.
    My perspective comes from having spent time in the trenches in the US and Peruvian animal shelters, where every cent or dollar counts to provide medical supplies and services to animals in need. I would rather donate my $14,000 directly to an animal welfare charity instead of making such a purchase.
    I hope to see you back again on my PetMD Daily Vet page.
    Dr. PM

  • re enough
    02/15/2013 06:20am

    I had at first thought not to even reply to this politicized rant. However, the writer made this personal, so I feel I must. Getting past the ultra-con cliches, there is, and must be, a distinction between legality and values. If I were to suddenly win the lottery and decided to buy an Aston-Martin and a house with more rooms than I could possibly use, I would be within my rights. I would be legally entitled, and, arguably, morally entitled as well. However, anyone would freely be able to question my values. Were I to to do these things, I would question my own values, although I do not deny my own desires towards conspicuous consumption. I think me must think about the distinction between our highest values and our strongest values. Yes, we can do anything we want with our money, which we have legally earned. But, shall we endeavor to make a better world>? We could pass that on to our descendants.

  • 02/15/2013 01:39pm

    Respectfully stated, speculating an individuals character before they utter a word out of their mouth, simply because of their status doesn't give a person a fair trial. Perhaps this individual does provide for "humans" within their resources and means. To assume otherwise would be seeking out failures in someone and undermining their integrity.
    So, to make this world a better place, perhaps, before waving a finger at others, while adorned with diamonds on one's fingers, (diamonds are also valuable and could benefit many), think about investigating deeper than the surface of an individual. Consumerism is not making this world corrupt, skewed views and jeaslously have rooted many unwarranted, unkind actions. To be kind to people, regardless of social status, makes the world a better place. Kindness starts with the person in the mirror, to all individuals...even your enemies.
    There is no rant, rather, one intellectual discusssing postions with another intellectual.

  • 02/15/2013 01:41pm


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