This show is for the dogs

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn pet owners must think their animal companions are just talentless slobs.

After all, consider this piece of evidence: As of this printing, not one dog-owner (or cat- or parrot-owner) has signed up his or her pooch for Bedford-Stuyvesant’s inaugural pet talent and fashion show in Fulton Park. And the June 2 show-time is approaching as fast as a greyhound chasing a rabbit.

It’s not that the organizer, Madeline Smith, hasn’t been doing her best to publicize the unusual event. Just take a saunter through Fort Greene, and you’re bound to run into one of her fliers seeking “creative and fashionable pets, whose owners can control them in a crowded area.”

And it’s not that the qualifications are all that daunting.

“I’m searching for pets that can do tricks,” Smith told The Brooklyn Paper. “Maybe they can walk on their hind legs, or bark out a tune, or maybe [there’s] a cat that can do something.”

Of course there is, but Brooklyn pet owners don’t have any faith in their “best” friends. Indeed, despite Brownstone Brooklyn’s seeming love for Mittens and Princess (see dog stollers, monogrammed scratching posts, and even pet ice cream), a lot of Brooklynites scoffed at the notion that their animal companions had any talents at all.

Phillip Kellogg, a Fort Greene resident and the doting owner of Carlton (named for Carlton Avenue, of course), said that his dog “does absolutely nothing — that’s his talent.”

Meanwhile, Sharon Barnes, a Clinton Hill resident and a self-described pet-show aficionado, lobbed an inter-species zinger at her dog Ginger (a male), calling him a “scaredy cat.”

“He can’t perform,” said Barnes. “He just does basic things, like ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ and ‘Down.’”

Then there are those pets whose skills are best kept behind closed doors.

Take Nelson, a friendly Park Slope mutt who lives with writer Mo Willems, and who, believe it or not, “relieves himself on command.”

“We have a code word, which is the Dutch word for pee,” said Willems. “If we say this word, he will either pee or poo on the street.” Yet while Nelson is the talk of the neighborhood, he’s not signed up for Smith’s talent show.

Of course, it’s not Nelson’s fault. Indeed, it is not the animals that are untalented, but the “owners” who have no ability to appreciate their companions’ true gifts.

But there are talented pets out there, at least according to Nicole Boone, a Park Slope-based professional dog walker.

“I know one woman whose cat catches balls in her paws — she’ll also bat the balls back at you,” said Boone. “If you put a biscuit on the noses of some dogs, they’ll toss it up in the air and catch it in their mouths. And, I have dogs who are extraordinary Frisbee players, or amazing jumpers.”

If Boone is describing an animal like yours, you owe it to your pet to show him or her off at Smith’s talent show. After all, the top animal will win a kibble-packed gift basket (and his owners get a dinner for two at Brook’s Valley Cafe on Tompkins Avenue).

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