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November 14, 2005
Hero dog to be cats' meow

This will probably be the first time a dog's memorial service is attended by 300 cats.

A Schnauzer-Siberian husky mix named Ginny will be eulogized Saturday at the 30th annual Westchester Cat Show, where she was named Cat of the Year in 1998 for her uncanny skill and bravery in finding and rescuing endangered tabbies.

Ginny died in August at age 17, after a long career as a one-dog rescue party for hundreds of cats on Long Island's South Shore who were abandoned, injured or in harm's way.

Her owner, Philip Gonzalez of Long Beach, has written two books about Ginny and the cats she found, several of whom moved in with him.

Among the best-known rescues is the time Ginny threw herself against a vertical pipe at a construction site to topple it and reveal kittens trapped inside.

She once ignored cuts on her paws as she dug through a box of broken glass to find an injured cat.

Gonzalez, 55, said he has tried to train other dogs to do what Ginny did, but, "they just didn't have it."

"I didn't train her," he said. "Ginny was just magical in a way. I adopted her from a shelter, and they said she's never been with cats before. But she just had this knack of knowing when a cat was in trouble."

As he did with Ginny, Gonzalez still goes out every night to feed stray cats in the area, with the help of the Ginny Fund, which pays for food, medical care and spaying or neutering.

The memorial service will be followed by this year's Cat of the Year award, which is going to an actual cat - Zoe, an 8-year-old rag doll from Larchmont who saved her owner from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The show, which runs through Sunday at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, also features best-of-breed judging, a household pet competition, agility contest for cats and book signing by Allia Zobel, author of "101 Reasons Why a Cat is Better Than a Man."

In addition, about 80 cats from shelters will be up for adoption.

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