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Phoenix looked a little confused Saturday night. Instead of hanging out in his foster home, he was high rolling it with a bunch of swells at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Obviously, this was his first Top Hat & Tails. But in a form-fitting T-shirt that covered the scars of being scalded, he fit in nicely. . . especially when some of the gorgeous gals held him. But did any of the beauts want a long-term commitment? More later.
As mentioned above, the Paws In The City event always seems to bring out the beauties and the beasts. Perhaps it’s pitting local celebs in a “Dancing With The Stars” competition for The Lucy Award. This year’s competition was fearsome. Little did the 700 guests checking out the pooches, kittens and silent auction goodies have any idea of the weeks of training that had taken place by the eight contestants (former NFL-er Tony Casillas, KLUV’s morning drive man Jody Dean, KXAS traffic reporter Tammy Dombeck, restaurateur Gilbert Garza, actor Burton Gilliam, KDFW weather gal Fiona Gorostiza, WB33’s meteorologist Rebecca Miller and philanthropist Krystal Schlegel). Jody had lost 20 lbs. due to the rehearsals plus had an angiogram; Krystal had only three weeks to train; Tammy had to make a three-hour round-trip for her dance lessons; and so on.
While the anxious dancers were upstairs getting coiffed, lip glossed and dolled up, families, friends and animal lovers were chatting it up downstairs. Jack Knox, who was to receive the Man’s Best Friend Award, spoke of his brood of rescued critters with pride. One is a Bichon/Shih-Tzu/poodle mix named Wal-mart because he hailed from Operation Kindness via a Wal-mart parking lot. His close friends call him “Wally.” Jack’s second pooch is a 2-year old mix-breed named Woodrow. He joined the Knox household after Jacquelin Sewell found him in a ditch on Northwest Highway. The last animal in Jack’s collection is a calico cat of undetermined age name Callie. According to Jack, the Knox sleeping arrangement in the king-size bed is, “I share their bed, not the other way around.”
Speaking of living arrangements, when asked if a street rumor that the Schlegel estate was on the market, Bob Schlegel looked surprised at the very idea. Seems the palatial house was indeed undergoing some major construction right now. So major, he joked, they’ve “almost had to move out!” Evidently during the frigid blast during the Super Bowl, some of the Schlegel pipes busted. As a result they’ve had to redo the kitchen and at least two other rooms. In the meantime, the Schlegels were also orchestrating the mega wedding of their daughter Kari to Troy Kloewer on May 7.
Lila Cotran was kissing up to an adoptable kitten; Rich Emberlin was escorting two of his favorite gals — his daughter and Honorary Chair LeeAnne Locken; PITC’s Tara Harper arrived midway during the reception. Seems she had been at the Dallas Animal Shelter rescuing a wee mother with her three pups. Showing up in a flowing gown with two crates, Tara presented her new fosters for possible forever families.
Speaking of the DAS, the event had new and old faces on hand. One was Dallas Police officer Scott Walton, who stepped in this past year when DAS was lacking top management. “There’s still a lot of work to be done there, but real improvements have been made.” A couple of the greatest improvements have been the morale of the staff, as well as an increase in adoptions under Scott’s leadership.
In the meantime, he’s been helping new DAS Division Manager Jody Jones around. Having held a similar position in Richmond, Virginia, Jody said, “Everybody is ready for the success of the shelter. I see huge opportunities.”
Joining Jody and Scott were longtime animal advocate Andy Allen and Director of Animal Advocacy and Communications for the Metroplex Animal Coalition Jonnie England, who was having a busy evening. Not only was she with her best gal pal, 92-year-old mother Lil, but Jonnie was receiving The St. Francis of Assisi Award. Among her many, many contributions to the animal efforts, Jonnie got PITC on both the
Russ Martin and Jody Dean radio shows, as well as going to the DAS weekly and sending photos of adoptable animals on the euthanasia list. Thanks to this combined effort of Jonnie, PITC and the DAS, hardly an adoptable animal has been euthanized this year. However, as Top Hat & Tails host Preston Pearson later told the well-heeled audience from the stage, 200,000 animals are “killed” each year in the Metroplex. Please note: Preston did not use the word “euthanize”.
But soon emcee Scott Murray called the group together, so the show could go on. After all, the contestants had taken at least 10 lessons and they wanted to show their stuff. But first
there was a call out for donations. To remind guests of why they were there, some of the adoptable pooches (Sheba, Gizmo, the DAS pups and Phoenix) were brought on stage. Mike Woodyard called Preston over to the side of the stage. Preston then announced to the sell-out crowd that Mike had agreed to “match everybody up to $2,000.” Asked why he did it, Mike said he had “zero” animals now, but did it “because of my personal friendship with Preston and Janie [Tilford],” Preston’s wife.
Next up was the live auction. While Tara and Becky Haisma stood on the sidelines with fingers crossed, Scott and Preston worked the room like burger slingers at In-n-Out. Most interesting item up for bid was La Dolce Vita, a trip to Venice. A bidding war developed on either side of the stage between Mike Woodyard and Jack Knox. After Scott negotiated a truce of selling the trip twice for $10,000, the dust didn’t settle. Not only did Mike and Jack agree to the deal, Jack gave the trip back to raise an additional $5,000.
Finally it was time for the dancing to begin. First to be introduced were the trio of judges — local Arthur Murray Studios owner Claudia Marshall, Dallas Cowboy great Drew Pearson and
ever-quotable philanthropist Angie Barrett. Alas, Angie was minutes late coming onstage. Some
reminded the group that Angie had been a contestant in a previous year, to which Scott said, “How’d she do?” Preston answered, “She was excellent.” Not enough for Angie, who coyly had the last word saying to Scott, “Don’t you remember?”
Then it was time for the dancing to begin. Each couple took to the stage to perform, be interviewed by host Preston and face the judges’ reviews:
Tony Casillas with partner Sarah Dantes did a merengue/samba. Preston told the audience, “He was worried a little about his hips, and thinking too much.”
- Claudia’s score – 9 saying, “Only thing better than a football player is a dancing football player.”
- Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”I felt the testosterone.”
- Drew’s score -9 mentioning he and Tony were both inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame together (in 2008).
Jody Dean with partner Adriann Alexander did the Swing. Jody told the audience, “If she can teach me, she can teach anyone.” What he didn’t tell was that through his efforts he had raised $15,000 from KLUV listeners and put a shout out to Janice and Bob Carter of Panda Energy to support PITC. Boy, what a shout out! The Carters wrote a check for $20,000.
- Claudia’s score – 7 asking, ”Do you still need a quart of vodka, Jody?”
- Angie’s score -7 saying, ”Great chemistry. If only you could find that chemistry in your personal life, Jody.”
- Drew’s score – 8 saying, ”Nicely done.”
Tammy Dombeck with partner Justin Brown did a rhythm medley. Like the other female contestants, her outfit was one of those worn by the “Dancing With The Stars” contestants. Tammy’s outfit had been worn by Cheryl Burke. Afterward Tammy said, “My dad wanted me to wear a turtleneck. I did!” and then added, “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” Regarding her previous stage appearances, she said, “When I was 7, I was in a Bambi play. I was a fawn.”
- Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Did great.”
- Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”You look amazing. A lot of men out there would love for you to unlock their grids.”
- Drew’s score – 9 saying, ”If I had legs like that, I’d wear that red dress too.”
Gilbert Garza with partner Bailey Kenzington did a 3-step. When asked by Preston if he had any pets, Gilbert proudly said, “I have an 8-year-old Chihuahua named Lucy.” During his performance, a spray of black rubber spiders were showered on the stage evidently thrown by Gilbert’s friends.
- Claudia’s score -7.
- Angie’s score – 6 saying, ”At dance school, maybe one child should have been left behind.”
- Drew’s score – 7.
Burton Gilliam with partner Lindsey Jordan did a country western/paso doble finishing up flat on the floor. When Preston asked Burton if he had any pets, a big old smile broke out on the contestant’s face. He told the crowd that he had “two Pomeranians, Sophie and Sadie — best in the world.” The Pomeranian lovers in the audience went wild.
- Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Extra points for entertainment.”
- Angie’s score – 8 saying, ”Awesome.”
- Drew’s score – 8 saying, ”Where do you find moves like that? The key was attitude.”
Fiona Gorostiza with partner Ian Kelley did a rumba/samba. After raising the roof with both her outfit and her moves, Preston informed the audience that she holds three world championships in taekwondo. When asked about her pet ownership, Fiona reported she had had two rescue “multi-poos,” but both “have passed.”
- Claudia’s score – 10 saying, ”Fluid, fantastic.”
- Angie’s score – 9 saying, ”Some Wesson oil and tarps and this would be a pay-per-view.”
- Drew’s score – 10 saying, “She can kick my ass anytime.”
Rebecca Miller with partner Daniel Dellucci did a cha-cha. Known for baking doggie cookies, Rebecca fessed up to having a 14.5-year-old Border Collie rescued from euthanasia; a sheltie and a Schnauzer, both rescued from puppy mills; and a cat she found in a dumpster.
- Claudia’s score – 9 saying, ”Like a sunny day with a little thunder.”
- Angie’s score – 9 saying, “Amazing.”
- Drew’s score – 9 saying, “Great coordination.”
Krystal Schlegel with Duce Roddick did a cha-cha. Scott asked if her father (Bob Schlegel) had seen her outfit before its onstage debut. The yorkie-poo owner giggled, “No.”
- Claudia’s score – 9.
- Angie’s score – 9 saying, ”You’re beautiful girl. Did an amazing job. We girls have to stick together. Except for that Fiona chick; she’s on her own.”
- Drew’s score – 9 saying, ”Too bad Duce is so shy. I used to wear shirts like that. When I had a chest.”
But the final decision was not left to the judgmental trio. The audience was given a short break to cast their ballots for their picks. Someone asked Preston how the Dallas mayor’s runoff results were coming in. Knowing how to keep interest high, he said results would be announced after the winner was revealed. People started hitting their smartphones to learn the early returns.
Soon Scott called all back to hear the results. Little did Scott and Preston realize that all the contestants were on stage except for Fiona. Perhaps that’s why they went ahead and announced the winner. Preston looked at the results and said, “Ooooh.” Scott got a gander at the winning name and went, “Aaaaaah.” They announced together, “Fiona.” Everyone looked around. No Fiona. Her name echoed through the hall and still no Fiona. A minute later, she scurried up to the stage and like a naughty child explained, “I was about to adopt a dog. I’m sorry.”
“Aaaaaaw,” was heard throughout the room. Fiona was forgiven.
Being presented the Lucy Award and a bouquet of flowers, Fiona said, “This is awesome. My instructor Ian has been fantastic. I’ve been in and out of town. . . Thank you!”
Oh, you wanted to know about what happened to Phoenix. Well, guess which pooch Fiona was considering for adoption?