I take great delight in coincidences. For example, this annual blog which usually caps off August, the last post of the last month of summer. When scouting the many photo opportunities within the home of this very fortunate Brussels Griffon, I spied a collection of “sailor’s valentines.” Since all 29 have been created by “Penny” van Beuren’s talented owner, I decided the four on the windowsill were the perfect setting for our portrait. Two days later, my inbox contained an invitation for an upcoming exhibit at the Redwood Library and Athenaeum…featuring this collection! Could there be any other selection for this blog’s featured image (above) than “Penny” amongst the valentines, ready to go in her party hat?
As with the last two Pampered Pets blogs , I’ve collaborated with my fave photographer, Nick Mele, whose list of bona fides keeps growing. “Work” shouldn’t be this much fun! The fact that he’s such a dog fan also adds to his allure. Their dogs are family, making many appearances in his witty, not-to-be-missed Instagram @A.Social.Life…where Cecil Beaton meets Willy Wonka, as one friend affectionately described him (but don’t take my word for it…here’s an example).
This year we have Covid-19 to thank for 2 of the dogs’ names…Oliver Pandemia (“Ollie”) Bowman, a most handsome Cavalier King Charles Spaniel just perfect for his residence, entitled Bridle Path and overlooking Lilly Pond.
And Pandemic (“Pan”) Partridge, a cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles spaniel and poodle mix ) happy in his family’s new home, “Land’s End.” Coincidentally (here we go again) this is the house where our photographer, Nick Mele, grew up. Fortuitously, the antique wallpaper screen that Nick and I are both partial to, still resides in the house…so it wasn’t too difficult to decide where to place Pan.
“Ollie” and “Bear” Breyer, what a pairing! A chocolate and a yellow lab, in a true “cottage” just loaded with chic…like the pillow-upon-pillow seat reprised from the 70s (and a ceramic dog looking on from the corner).
As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of coincidences in this blog; it is actually the first set of twin dog owners to be included. Louisa and Shelley Ryan (and their husbands) share a coveted Newport Restoration Foundation colonial within a beautiful cobblestone courtyard across from Trinity Church. “Elliot” (Pomeranian) is the official mascot of Louisa’s interior design firm, House of Elliott, while his sidekick, “Georgie” (Terrier Mix rescue) adores strolls on Cliff Walk. They’re obviously hatching some serious plot!
Keeping it in the family, we included Nick’s pit bull, “Lola”, a lovely lady reclining in front of the charming garden shed at the Whim, Nick’s grandmother’s, and now mother’s, home.
“Mocha” Hamilton, a Havanese, asks: “What’s not to love about this iconic Newport view?!” The wide channel opening off the Atlantic Ocean and leading into Newport harbor… looking across to the island of Jamestown…spending the day observing a panorama of sailing boats and ships. Aaaaah, a dog’s life!
Talk about another iconic Newport setting. The famed “Blue Garden,” lost to the ravages of time and overgrowth, was recreated by Dodo Hamilton from drawings of the 1913 original garden. “Zone” (pit bull) Benson’s owner continues the dynastic oversight of this horticultural legacy on Aquidneck Island.
How could we resist seating Labrador “Jackson” Prince in his family’s coral red 1962 Thunderbird, which travels back and forth between Newport and Washington, D.C. Plus, his list of traits and characteristics sound like the ideal gentleman…”dependable…loves to snuggle…loyal…well mannered (always waits for me to walk through the door first)…and he can stay up for any party we hold.” Maybe the Cary Grant of dogs?
Residing in the domain of two of Newport’s most-respected architects, and 4 time recipients of the Doris Duke Historic Preservation Award, Corgies “Jasper” and “Chloe” Farzan agreed to sit for a portrait in the dressed up garden shed across from the stone grotto at their historic Rockhurst Gatehouse. Another coincidence…this garden shed was originally on the property of the cottage where “Ollie” and “Bear” Breyer were photographed.
Another two weeks of fun with Nick and Bettie in Newport, photographing our pampered pets for 2021. Thank you, Nick!! Come May, when Nick’s MUST-SEE new book, A Newport Summer, comes out, you’ll probably notice a few of these pooches within its pages. If you love Newport, you definitely will want to own this photographer’s insider look (captured over fifteen years!) at the goings on in our magical town.
All images courtesy of Nick Mele Photography.