The most popular and well-known landmark in New York has to be the Statue of Liberty. A gift bestowed upon the people of this great nation, over a century ago, from those of another, France. Since 1886, “Lady Liberty” defines everything synonymous with this great country, such as, liberty, equality and freedom, but for so many, it means refuge from a prior life with the hope and likely pursuit of a better one. About then years later, the French bestowed another gift to New Yorkers, and it is a gift that keeps giving. One whose ideals are based on the centuries old practices of Barrone d’Herpents’Dog Refuge in Paris and delivered to this country by an individual who didn’t even have the right to vote, a woman named Mrs. Flora D’Auby Jenkins Kibbe.
Barrone d’Herpents’Dog Refuge had a very simple model: take stray animals off the streets of Paris and care for them while looking for their “forever homes”. The conventional approach of that era was to simply drown the animals in order to euthanize them. At the turn of the 19th Century, Mrs. Kibbe was overwhelmed with what she saw and brought this novel concept back to America where she created her own version of it. In 1903, Bide-A-Wee Home Association was created in a small building by her Manhattan home. By 1909, the building was the home of over 200 dogs and lots of complaints from the neighbors due to the barking of the animals. Unfortunately, Mrs. Kibbe was forced to leave that location, but it did not stop her from saving the animals, or her passion of helping them. Over the next few years there was no established residence for Bideawee, but she managed to find local shelters to watch over the animals while she worked tirelessly to find a permanent location for her charity.
Through her hard work and determination, Bideawee landed its forever home on 410 East 38th Street, Manhattan. It has served as the first step of the recovery process for many of these displaced animals ever since. With the opening of its two locations in Long Island, Bideawee has grown and transformed into one of the most reputable charities in the New York Area. This article not only concentrates on Bideawee as a standalone institution, but also on one of its most famous rescues, “Henry” and his incredible journey from the streets of Memphis to the billboards of Times Square. One very cold night in early January, Jason Howard and I learned about a free concert being held in Times Square. It wasn’t your usual concert … this one was for the dogs of New York City! Being a dog lifestyle brand, we knew that we had to cover the event. We thought we would go, capture some stunning photos and deliver a candid review of the event, but thankfully, life is never that simple. One of the dogs that was photographed happened to be Henry, the cute face that most New Yorkers who frequent midtown has seen hanging on billboards with clever quotes promoting the Bideawee charity. One of those billboards happen to be above the concert that evening. As his dad says, “He is the Johnny Depp of dogs, a real scruff muffin.”, and we couldn’t agree more. This little four year old Shih Tzu mix also has the ultimate rags to riches story which has every circumstance and emotion needed to become a best seller.
Henry was sick with many stomach problems, badly malnourished and sitting on death row at a shelter in Memphis when Bideawee found him and his sister. The little guy literally had 24 hours to live. As luck would have it, his dad, who’s the Vice Chairman of a major global investment banking firm and responsible for the animal health field, was at Bideawee the day of his arrival for a business meeting. This coincidence was the end of a nightmare and the beginning of a fairytale for “Henry”, as he was one of those animals whom Todd would see while inspecting the shelter. Todd immediately felt in love with the dog. Henry rehabilitated at the hospital while waiting for his new forever home at Mr. Richter’s beautiful midtown apartment high in the sky.
Three very important notes about Bideawee which separates them from other shelters around the country, 1) They do not just take the best-looking animals or the ones who they think will be adopted immediately. The charity truly loves all animals, especially those in real need. 2) Not only do they serve as a no kill shelter, but more importantly, they function as a hospital for both the general public’s pets, as well as their own adoptable animals. 3) They do not blindly endorse their adoptees. All animals are given behavioral and physical evaluations to point out their strengths and weaknesses as well as any red flags that a new parent should be aware of prior to adopting the animal.
After hearing the story, we immediately agreed that we would like to do an editorial on Henry, in order to share his story and show that if someone such as Todd has time to donate his time and money towards this incredible charity, then no one should have an excuse about doing something that is morally correct and the premise of cooperative society as whole. As February approached, NYCDogswag had given its commitment to participate in the Anthony Rubio Design’s NYFW runway show, and we immediately started thinking about how we could incorporate some of our favorite charities into the event. Bideawee was a clear favorite in regard to the type of charity we would like to include, an Henry was a no brainer as a dog model to walk that runway and represent the charity. His dad being the generous man that he is, enlisted Bideawee as the co-host of our after party, so they could get as much exposure as possible. He is a man who takes very little credit for the charity work he does, so we feel it is up to us to praise him and his selfless effort. On February 14th, Henry made his runway debut, and based on the comments from the photos of Henry at the show, it is safe to assume that he was a fan favorite.
February 24th, NYCDogswag finally returned to Bideawee for a meeting with Leslie Granger, Chief External Relations officer, which was followed by a second tour of its’ establishment hosted by our buddy, Henry. Leslie was as kind as always, and her first comment was to tell us that there were not that many dogs for us to photograph, since 18 had been adopted over the last week or so! It was so refreshing to see a senior executive of a charity reference the work first. We spoke about the new van. The face of the bus looked very similar to that little dog we have been referencing throughout the article. It was indeed Henry. The charity will be creating unique events throughout the spring and summer promoting the charity, and they will be displaying their adoptable around New York in the hopes of finding them forever homes.
The tour ended and Mr. Richter and Henry had one more surprise of us. We left Bideawee and got a firsthand view of how much Henry’s life has changed since his days in on the winter streets of Memphis. As we arrived at their residence, a doorman came with an umbrella to the car so neither of their inhabitants would get wet. Upon entering, everyone was saying hello to Henry first. You could see that he was considered as quite the celebrity and as much of a human as any other individual on two legs. We approached the front desk, a 60 foot long marble counter, and little Henry was greeted by every concierge there. He pranced around that counter as elegantly as he did the runway a week earlier.
Our final destination was the bar at the building, a very classy, high-end establishment. It was something that falls right in line with where you would imagine an individual of Toods’s position would reside. Henry was right at home. Everyone there knew the little guy, and he was more than comfortable sitting on a bar stool while enjoying the attention and giving love to all the people surrounding him. This was the last image of the evening but not of this story.
Our relationship with Bideawee, as well as their best pup, Henry, will continue to expand. This is one story that will only get better as time goes on. NYCDogswag absolutely loves this charity and the great people that, not only work there, but also who stand proud and praise the name of this charity and their one-hundred plus years of hard work.