As seen at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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As the old saying goes, sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Enjoy!

Great Dane wins Best Lap Dog contest at Puttin' on the Dog.
Best Lap Dog winner. Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Owner and dog get a helping hand on the agility course.
Balancing act. Action in the agility ring at Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Runner-up in one of the contests at the 30th annual Puttin' on the Dog festival.
Second place? What do you mean I got second place? The indignity of it all. Puttin’ on the Dog, Greenwich CT. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with her charge at Puttin' on the Dog.
Take me home! A senior dog steals the show in the first parade at the Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

 

Nap time! Hurricane Harvey kittens take a break at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
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It’s time for the annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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Whatever you do, don’t try to get a hold of me on Sunday. I’ll be busy. All day. And by the time I get home, I’ll be dog tired (literally), hot and bothered. But I’ll also be happy.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

On Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day shooting the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival, which will be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Hosted by Adopt-a-Dog, the event is billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Boston and benefits several local animal rescue and welfare groups.

In addition to raising money and awareness for worthy causes, the festival gives animal lovers a chance to meet some of the dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It also gives dogs and their people a chance to show off by participating in various contests.

You can learn more about the fun and games here.

This will be the fifth straight year I’ve volunteered at the event. And personally, I’m looking forward to hanging out in the cat pavilion, photographing the action in the demonstration rings and on stage, and checking out the silent auction.

On that note, I’d better run. Hopefully I’ll see you on Sunday. If not, don’t call me. I’ll call you!

Football controversy and a wealth of ignorance in Greenwich, Connecticut

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As someone who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, I am proud to say I defy every stereotype about this place. As someone who has lived in Greenwich for most of my life, I am also happy to say I defy the stereotypes about Greenwich residents.

I am not filthy rich. My family isn’t filthy rich, either. I don’t live in a McMansion. I don’t drive an SUV or crossover, or even a luxurious car. The only time I go overseas is to see family and I haven’t done so since 2015. I don’t work in New York City and I don’t have a house in the Hamptons.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I am not a snob. I am not fake. In fact, you won’t find anyone more forthright, honest, or genuine than I am — if I do say so myself. What you see is what you get. And what you get isn’t always perfect. But for the most part, I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent person.

Having said all of that, perhaps you’ll understand why I’m not only ashamed of what’s been going on around here — I’m disgusted.

According to recent media reports, a Greenwich High School football coach decided to use some rather “unique” signals to counter certain defensive formations. Under his direction, the team used “Stalin” to signal an offensive line shift to the left, and “Hitler” to signal a shift to the right.

No, I’m not kidding.

In an open letter to the community recently posted on the school district’s website, the interim superintendent of schools said the following:

“The shift is called at the line of scrimmage. There is no defensible reason for using those two names. The coach clearly displayed bad judgement, but it was not intended in any way to be an anti-Semitic remark and there is no ‘Hitler’ play. This is not an excuse, only an explanation. It was a bad decision because of its insensitivity. But it is also important to understand that these were not slurs that were directed at anyone. It was an inappropriate use of names that have a horrific history attached to them and we should have been mindful of that. Our coaches should know better and it should never have happened.”

Understandably, the use of Hitler’s name spurred the most visceral reactions and received the most emphasis in Interim Superintendent Salvatore J. Corda’s public apology.

Frankly, as a first-generation American of Eastern European descent, I am outraged by the use of Stalin’s name. And no one has apologized to me.

For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Stalin was just as ruthless as Hitler. And just as evil. Although the exact numbers may never been known, some estimates indicate he may have been responsible for up to 20 million deaths from the time he seized power in the late 1920s until his death in 1953.

A brief summary of Stalin’s “achievements” on history.com includes the following:

“Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge, a series of campaigns designed to rid the Communist Party, the military and other parts of Soviet society from those he considered a threat.”

What’s even more disgusting than the repeated use of the names “Hitler” and “Stalin” by a high football team is the community’s reaction to the ensuing controversy on social media. You can read more about that here.

For people outside of Greenwich, it is simply a wealthy New York City suburb. But all this goes to show is that there’s a wealth of ignorance here, too.

And that’s a shame.

A lawyer accused of bank robbery — now that’s rich

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Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

So did you hear the one about the lawyer who (allegedly) robbed a bank?

Are you waiting for the punchline?

There isn’t one.

It really happened. Allegedly.

According to published accounts, Meighan Marie McSherry, 46, of Manhattan, has been charged in connection with a recent bank robbery in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is also the suspect in another one, which happened in New York City last week.

I’m not too sure which Wells Fargo branch in Greenwich McSherry allegedly robbed. I seriously doubt it was the one across the street from my house. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the incident did happen there.

For one thing, there’s no shortage of drama in this neighborhood. Secondly, from what I understand, police caught her on West Putnam Avenue. I don’t know exactly where on West Putnam Avenue, but the beginning (or end) of that particular road isn’t too far from my house.

But anyway, that’s all beside the point. The point is that an attorney who, by all accounts was once very successful, is now facing felony charges. Specifically, Greenwich police charged her with first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery.

Authorities said McSherry left the bank with an untold sum after she passed a note “demanding money and claiming that she had a weapon.” No one actually saw any sort of weapon during the alleged commission of the crime, but police reportedly found other evidence linking McSherry to the incident when they apprehended her.

So we know what McSherry is accused of doing — but lots of questions remain unanswered. The most puzzling of those is why.

Perhaps we’ll learn more as the case wends its way through the court system.  McSherry is reportedly scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in state Superior Court in Stamford in a few weeks.

In the meantime, there will be plenty of time to come up with some really bad jokes. I mean, I’ve heard of an attorney robbing someone blind, but this is ridiculous…

Cue rim shot!

The curious case of the Connecticut commuter lizards

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“And I thought hedge fund guys were the only ‘reptiles’ slithering in and out of Greenwich on Metro North.”

So I came across a really interesting article in the Connecticut Post yesterday. I mean it. It was really cool.

Apparently a Harvard researcher has determined that “non-native Italian wall lizards” are making themselves at home in Greenwich. And he has a fairly outrageous theory about how they got here.

He says they might have taken Metro North. Seriously. Check your calendars. It is not April 1. Then click the link above if you haven’t done so already. Yes, the story is legit. I wouldn’t kid you about something like that.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

But back to the matter at hand. This guy claims a bunch of these little critters have been living in The Bronx for a while. And then, for reasons known only to them, they decided to move. Since they can’t drive and it would take forever to walk, I guess they decided to hop some northbound commuter trains to explore life in the suburbs.

“It’s a really nice expressway for them to travel distances,” Colin Donihue told the Post. “Those little guys move pretty fast.”

Can’t you just picture it? Dozens of little creatures — resembling miniature versions of a certain gecko of insurance advertising fame — riding the 6:37 p.m. local? And I thought hedge fund guys were the only “reptiles” slithering in and out of Greenwich on Metro North. Cue rim shot…

But in all seriousness, Donihue says the wall lizards probably followed the train tracks — which afford protection from predators, warmth in cold weather and shade in warmer weather.

Donihue has reportedly observed 15 to 20 lizards in some yards and estimates there could be up to 1,000. Determining how far off the beaten path — er track — they went will help him refine the estimate.

He is also trying to determine if they have made it to Stamford yet.

Personally I doubt it. I live just steps away from the New York State line, and I can see the Metro North train tracks from my house. But, no, I haven’t seen any Italian wall lizards in my yard.

I’ll let you know if that changes.

A unique brand of lawlessness in Greenwich, Connecticut

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Greenwich, Connecticut is pretty special. There’s no doubt about it.

Nestled along Long Island Sound, it is a (relatively) short drive or train trip from New York City. Home to 60,000 people (give or take a few) the Town of Greenwich is composed of several distinct neighborhoods — including Greenwich itself, Old Greenwich, Cos Cob and Riverside. Within Greenwich itself, there are several colorful enclaves including Belle Haven, Bruce Park, Byram, Pemberwick, and Glenville (to name a few).

While its economic and cultural diversity is surprising to some, Greenwich nevertheless ranks among the wealthiest communities in the country. With its share of  yacht clubs, golf clubs, restaurants and shops, it’s the perfect playground for movie stars, TV stars, Broadway stars, professional athletes, New York power brokers and their trophy wives (or girlfriends).

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Speaking of shopping, Greenwich Avenue — a huge hill situated in the middle of the central business district — is home to some of the best. It is also has another unique feature that sometimes results in an interesting (but somewhat predictable) brand of lawlessness.

You see, Greenwich Avenue is one of the few remaining places in the country where police officers direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Yes, instead of traffic lights or stop signs at the intersections of Greenwich Avenue and its side streets, you will find real, live police officers. At least, that’s the case most of the time.

Through the dead of winter and dog days of summer, Greenwich police officers assigned to “The Avenue” man their posts six days per week. Without them, who knows what kind of mayhem would ensue? People probably wouldn’t be able to figure out that you can’t drive up Greenwich Avenue. They’d also be risking their lives while trying to cross the street — but then again, they do that now.

Yes, the scofflaws had a field day at the Greenwich Sidewalk Sales last weekend. With their sense of entitlement on full display and their cell phones in hand, oblivious pedestrians strolled through the intersections as if the cops weren’t even there. Needless to say, the cops — who were working even though it was 90 degrees with at least 40 percent humidity — weren’t exactly happy about being ignored.

Really,” one said as a few pedestrians strolled into the path of oncoming traffic.

Some of his colleagues were more vocal than that.

Eventually, even I’d had enough.

“Hello,” I said to one group of jaywalkers. “The police officer is here for a reason. He is not standing in the middle of the road for his health. How about paying attention next time?”

The crowd ignored me. The cop smiled. And if nothing else, I got the last word.

Blogging for a good cause

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It’s official.

If all goes according to plan, the first entry for our brand new blog, Paws for Thought, will appear on Adopt-a-Dog’s website March 31. Of course, a lot could happen to delay or even derail the project between now and then. Then again, there’s always the chance that everything will go smoothly. Personally, nothing would make me happier.

Coming to the Rescue

Take me home! A dog up for adoption and an Adopt-a-Dog volunteer. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
An Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with a dog up for adoption at the annual Puttin’ on the Dog show in Greenwich last September. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

For those of you who haven’t heard of the organization, I can tell you that it’s one of the most awesome non-profit organizations for which I have ever had the pleasure of volunteering. Based in Armonk, N.Y., its mission is to rescue, provide shelter and then and find “forever homes” for dogs of all ages and breeds.

Doing so is more than a full-time job for the staff at Adopt-a-Dog. It is a labor of love.

The happiness and well-being of each dog that comes to the shelter is paramount, so each one is carefully evaluated upon arrival. With assessments in hand, the staff then ensures that each dog’s needs are fully addressed. Among other things, that means making sure that all of the dogs get proper medical care and those that have behavioral issues get to work with a trainer. All of the dogs get to participate in “enrichment activities” with volunteers and staff.

Prospective adopters had lots of dogs to choose from at the annual Puttin on the Dog show in Greenwich last fall. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Pick me! An Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with a dog up for adoption at Puttin’ on the Dog in Greenwich. September 2015. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

Anyone interested in adopting a dog is also thoroughly “vetted” before they can bring their new friend home. The process usually begins when someone comes to an event or visits the adoptions page on the organization’s website to see if there are any dogs they’d like to meet. Sometimes they phone the shelter to see if any puppies are available or if they are interested in a specific breed. In any case, they must fill out an application and make an appointment to come to the shelter in order to meet the dog(s).

As part of the application process, prospective adopters must provide references, all of which are checked. In some cases — usually when the applicant has another pet — staff will conduct home visits before the adoption is finalized.

Help Wanted

If you ask anyone at Adopt-a-Dog, they’ll quickly admit that well-trained volunteers are key to the shelter’s success. While most volunteers help out at the shelter itself, a lot also lend a hand at special events. Some, like me, volunteer in multiple capacities. I do administrative office tasks at the shelter once per week, and do reference checks at adoption events when needed. I also photograph special events like the annual Howl and Prowl costume contest and Puttin’ on the Dog show here in Greenwich. Now I’ll also be doing some Pro Bono blogging.

One way or another it all adds up to a lot of hard work. But it’s also a blast, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Martha Moxley murder and her killer’s fate: a personal perspective

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In the fall of 1975, a heinous crime rocked Greenwich, Connecticut. A teenage girl was brutally murdered in Belle Haven, an especially private and wealthy neighborhood in what consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

A cautionary tale

I grew up not far from there. But as a kid, I was blissfully unaware of what had happened on the other side of the tracks — or more accurately — on the “right” side of I-95, just a few short miles away. As the years went by and the case remained unsolved, my friends and I spent countless hours playing on our own street, less than a five-minute drive away from the spot where someone had beaten Martha Moxley to death with a golf club.

At some point — probably in my early teens — I learned all about the girl who was killed on “Mischief Night,” the night before Halloween when teens egg cars, houses and decorate their neighborhoods with toilet paper. Adults used Martha’s story as a cautionary tale, warning us not to go out on Mischief Night, or not to stay out too late if we did. Being teenagers — and more accurately being teenage girls — we also swapped stories, gossiped and speculated about the  unknown killer and unsolved crime.

‘Super Cop’ comes to town

As a young reporter my first “real” newspaper job in Greenwich in the 1990s, I worked with one of Martha’s closest friends. As you can imagine, that gave me a whole new perspective on the matter. It was no longer just a brutal and senseless crime that rocked my town; it was a brutal and senseless crime that directly affected someone I knew.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Given that, you can also imagine my reaction when, as a reporter for the same paper, I witnessed  former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman’s arrival in town. Although I wasn’t the police reporter at the time (I had happily given the beat to a colleague) I do know the Greenwich police — long frustrated and embarrassed about their inability to solve the Moxley case — weren’t exactly happy about it, either.  Apparently Fuhrman got what he wanted — and then he wrote a book. In it, he identified Michael Skakel, who is related to the Kennedys, as the “prime suspect” in the case.

The wheels of justice

As so often happens, especially in big cases, the wheels of justice seem to turn very, very slowly — until something happens to speed things up. In this case, it just so happened that a grand jury investigation was authorized in 1998, the same year that Fuhrman’s book was released.

The grand jury investigation itself took more than a year. As a result, Skakel turned himself in to authorities in January, 2000. Two years later, he was tried and convicted of murder, and he was ultimately sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

He remained in prison for more than 10 years, until a judge ruled that his attorney made mistakes that resulted in a wrongful conviction.

According to a Hartford Courant account, however, prosecutors now want Skakel “back in prison.”

So do I.

Duty calls

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Don’t you just love getting mail from the government?

Your pulse quickens, your stomach knots and your mouth gets all dry. Your hands shake, you start to sweat and your head is pounding.

You study the return address, trying to figure out whether or not to open it. Maybe if you ignore it, it will just go away. Maybe you’ll “lose” it.

Then again, maybe not.

And in all fairness to much-maligned bureaucrats out there, sometimes those envelopes do contain good news. Sometimes it’s your tax refund.

Most of the time, it’s not.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I got my property tax bill from the Town of Greenwich recently. And then the state sent me a note informing me it’s my turn to report for jury duty.

I already paid my taxes. As for jury duty, I’m supposed to go later this week. On one hand, I’m dreading it since I’m supposed to be at the courthouse early and it will probably take an hour to get there. On the other hand, it would be kind of cool to be chosen for a high-profile case.

I suppose it would be fairly easy for me to “get out of it” if I really want to. I have a paralegal certificate — so I know a bit about the law. I also spent the better part of 21 years covering cops and courts…

Then again, the experience could provide some very interesting blog fodder.

In any case, I will definitely let you know what happens… as soon as I can.