Kitty in a Sink

Melissa Stagnaro

About a week and a half ago, I received an email from Sue Reymers, Director of Development for the Chenango SPCA. She had a proposition for me. My mission, if I chose to accept it, was to help judge the SPCA’s first ever “FUR-ever Pet” photo contest.

Why not, I said. After all, there are worse ways to spend a lunch hour than looking at pictures of cute and cuddly pets.

Sure, secretly I wondered why Sue had picked me. While I’m inordinately fond of Lulu, my formerly-feral feline, I’m hardly an animal lover of the same magnitude as some in the community. And lets face it, I’m not known for my photography skills. (Although I like to think I can at least recognize a good photo when I see one, even if the taking of one escapes me.)

But I do love to give my opinion on things when the opportunity presents itself. Based on that alone, accepting the invitation was a no-brainer.

Only after I RSVPed, did I realize Sue’s motivation for requesting my assistance probably had more to do with the fact that I was sure to blog about it afterwards. And here I am, proving her right.

Oh, how I hate being so predictable…

But that didn’t stop me from presenting myself at the Chenango SPCA at the designated time to do my part in determining Best in Show for the all-too-cute photo contest. Sharing my judging duties were none other than Dr. Al and Mrs. Marilyn Kochersperger, and the shelter’s operations director, Lisa Teller.

Sue was there as well, serving as a facilitator of sorts and helping us keep focused on the task at hand. Which was definitely a good thing, since it was far too easy to fall into oohing and aahing over each one of those cutesy photos. Forget about the whole judging thing.

I was truly impressed with the applicant pool. I think there were something like 90 submissions in all, and as I said, each one more adorable than the last. I was pretty pleased with myself for being able to narrow it down to just 5 within a few minutes.

Granted, I’d spent close to an hour looking at them all the previous day, and there were some great ones we weren’t allowed to consider. Those being ones  entered by members of the SPCA’s board and others affiliated with the shelter.

All of the pictures were great, but I do have one thing I’d like to say to pet owners the world over. I mean no offense, but the next time you’re tempted to accessorize your beloved fur-covered friend with a hat or, heaven forbid, sunglasses, please reconsider. I’m speaking on behalf of the animals here when I ask you – beg, you – to resist. Just say no. Trust me, your pets will thank you for it.

But I digress…

Being more of a cat person myself, felines outweighed their canine counterparts 3 to 2 on my short list. If you had a chance to peruse the list of competitors, I’ll tell you that Muddie, Toven, and Zeke were my feline favs. And Bo and Picha out-dogged the rest of the pack, in my opinion.

Alas, none of the above appeared on the list of the dog-loving Kocherspergers and I had almost despaired of ever finding a middle ground, until Lisa rattled off her picks.

I rejoiced to hear Toven (or “Kitty in a Sink,” as I like to call him). Also on her list was Shamrock, a favorite of the Kocherspergers.

It didn’t take us long to decide to split the Best in Show distinction, in order to recognize both of these photos.

I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize two other photos, and the dogs featured in them. Sophie and Oscar were right up there, in my opinion. But because their owners  – Leslie Bernardi and Ann Coe, respectively – are both CSPCA board members, they weren’t eligible for the Best in Show prize. Both were front runners for the grand prize, though, which was determined by online “votes.” Also known as donations.

Zulu, however, pulled off a last minute victory in that regard. Coming from a distant fourth just 10 hours before voting ended, to come out as top dog in the end.

All three winners received some great prizes from the CSPCA, as well as recognition on the organizations website and at the shelter. To view the winning entries, visit They will also be published at a later date in The Evening Sun.

The good news for the rest of you pet-lovers out there is that the CSPCA is already talking about next year’s FUR-ever Friend photo contest. So get snapping.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.