Light N' Lively Miniature Poodles
Do You Know Where Your Bitches Are?
By Joan Markowitz

There are some great Poodle people in this world, often working quietly and almost unknown, and this is the story of one of them. It is also the story of a brave dog.; and unfortunately, it is also a warning: to really investigate the prospective customer before putting your bitches out on breeder’s terms.

Katy was about eight months old when I put her out on breeder’s terms, because she was a bit oversized, with a supposedly stable family, who came highly recommended to me by people I knew. She was to be bred two times, and then her AKC papers would be signed over to Mrs. “M” (who must remain nameless). All requirements were fulfilled, and the papers were signed over when she was approximately 2 ½ years old. So far,  so good. After seeing Katy’s puppies grow up, I realized that she could easily become a Top Producer, and I asked Mrs. M to either let me breed her again (for whatever sum of money) or sell her back to me. I made several trips to her home, but no one was ever there. I left notes in the mailbox, sent innumerable letters, but I never received a reply. This went on for almost two years and then:

On November 10, 1981, I received a phone call. The voice on the other end said, “You don’t know me, my name is Joan Burfitt and I’m from Santa Barbara, California. Do You happen to know a Miniature  Poodle about  five  years old by the name of Katy?” The only answer I could come up with was, “ Please hurry with the punch line before I have a breakdown!” But the woman told me that she was considered the Poodle Lady of Santa Barbara and the story couldn't be told quickly. What followed is the unbelievable story of Light N’ Lively’s  Kiss ’m Kate, the dam of Best in Show and Group Winner Ch. Light N’ Lively Lil Awful Andy and Venezuelan Group winning Ch. Light N’ Lively’s Awkward Annie.

Some time in mid-October Katy was picked up by the Santa Barbara dog pound because neighbors reported seeing her loose on the street, eating garbage! Being the Poodle Lady of Santa Barbara means that any Poodle picked up by the pound is automatically turned over to Joan Burfitt; after being groomed by another Poodle friend. When Joan saw Katy, full of fleas and malnourished, she realized that this was no ordinary Poodle. Next day Mrs. M appeared to claim her dog. She was asked first to describe her, which she did, and was asked her name. Joan scolded Mrs. M for the deplorable condition of the dog, and Joan offered to keep her, but was refused. She asked Mrs. M where she got Katy, since she was obviously from exceptional breeding. Mrs. M replied, Funny your name should be Joan. The lady I got her from in New York, her name is Joan, too!” A casual remark, but how important it was to become in the weeks ahead! Mrs. M gathered up Katy and left.

On Halloween Joan received a telephone call from Mrs. M saying that she was in Los Angeles looking for her estranged husband!- and had left Katy with some friends, who just called to tell her Katy was ill. Could Joan go over to her house and see what was wrong? When Joan arrived, she found Katy paralyzed from the waist down, lying next to a stereo speaker blasting in her ears and covered  with her own excrement. The people said she had been like that for over a day, and that they had no money to take her to a veterinarian. Which is what Joan did immediately.  X-rays diagnosed her as having two prolapsed discs. He put her on medication and without too much hope of her recovering enough ever to have use of her hindquarters again, sent her home with Joan. But Joan Burfitt is not the kind of person who gives up easily and she took a week off from her job to completely devote herself to the task ahead. Because Katy had no control of  her bladder or bowels, she kept her in a playpen. She walked her  outside  by holding up her hind legs (wheel  barrel style); just so she could have some exercise  and not get bored.And she kept  hoping to find someone who knew where Katy had come from. One person she contacted was Darlene Watson, a well known Poodle breeder, who decided to comb  through her copies of the Poodle Review and look for a breeder of white Miniature Poodles in the New York area by the name of Joan. She found an ad for Ch Light ‘ Lively Lil Awful Andy, with my name and phone number. That was the day Joan called me.

Upon hearing the story, I cried for days, astonished that anyone could have abused a dog that way. But I was even more amazed that such wonderful people way across the country cared enough to take her in and go to all this trouble to find me, with so little information to go by!

I sent a check to Joan that night to cover any medical bills incurred. She donated  the check to the shelter and would not accept any reimbursement! She and I spoke almost every day and Joan sent me pictures ( some of them heartbreaking) at least once a week. For three weeks there was not much progress. My vet contacted her vet  in California and they kept in touch so that we  really had a  team effort! They didn't have much hope, but didn’t think she was in pain. A schedule of diet, megadoses of vitamins, and physical as well as mental therapy was worked out – with Joan doing all the work! And then on Thanksgiving Day I got a phone call, with Joan crying “she stood up!” From then on it was uphill all the way and I started making plans to go to California to bring Katy home.

I was told by both veterinarians that it was too dangerous for her to travel in baggage because she couldn’t right herself if the crate tipped over, she could barely stand. Both gave me letters to get her on the plane with me. I went to every airline and spoke to hundreds of people; no one would make an exception for this helpless crippled dog! But I was determined. Several people came up with the idea of using a light weight carry-all shoulder bag. But she is a big girl, and it took weeks to find the right thing. Finally one of my grooming  customers  brought  me one that was perfect. My  husband  fitted it with a rigid bottom made of thick paneling  to give enough support for her back.

On December 8th Joan met me at the Santa Barbara airport with Katy in a baby carriage. I spent the next five days at Joan’s home- she insisted, and took off from her job, again-and we became fast friends! We put Katy in the bag every day to get her used to it. Then I made a reservation for myself and a “small Poodle”. At the airport, no one even asked to see her and Katy didn’t make a sound. When we got to the X-ray machine  I acted casually, took her out of the bag so they could send it through and then just zipped her back into it. The photograph shows us at the Los Angeles airport, with Katy sitting in the middle of the bag. How well it worked! After take-off I put a diaper on her  and for the next five hours held her  in my arms. In fact, about halfway into the flight the captain came down the aisle and spotted Katy, remarking that she was the best traveling dog he had ever seen.
Joan and Katy

Katy and Joan
All that was a year and  a half ago. Katy has been the most courageous, determined dog you will ever see. She’s had some swimming  and physical therapy, a lot of vitamins and a super amount of love. Now, although not perfectly, she DOES walk, can even run, and climbs up and down stairs. And even more amazing, she has just had a litter of two puppies, by Andy, a boy and a girl of promising quality which hopefully will make her a Top Producer one day. Also after a very trying time, I finally contacted Mrs’ M and received the AKC papers from her. In fact, they were still in my name! She had never even transferred them. Katy and her champion littermates just celebrated their sixth birthday! It was a special event at our house. As I said in the beginning, there are some great Poodle people in this world!
The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party - Katy is the dog on the right
with her littermates Fanny and Sweetie and their sister MEME.
Light N' Lively Poodles
Joan Markowitz
Staten Island, New York
Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened!
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