Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dogs In Party Hats


“Dogs in Party Hats” Contest Winners Announced for 2010

  – Twelve winners have been selected in the First Annual “Dogs in Party Hats” Contest, with all entry proceeds going to the benefit of the internationally accredited nonprofit guide dog school Guiding Eyes for the Blind, headquartered in Yorktown Heights.  A “Wall of Honor” displaying photographs of the winning dogs in their party attire will be unveiled on January 10th at 4 PM at Via Vanti! Restaurant and Gelateria, the Mount Kisco, NY based originator and sponsor of the competition. 

Dog owners across the country were challenged to “unleash your imagination” by conjuring a flavor name of gelato (Italy’s celebrated version of ice cream) suggested by the appearance and personality of their canine friend when attired in a party hat or other fun doggie garb.  Scores of contest entrants submitted their dog’s “flavor name”, an uploaded photograph of their dog in costume, and a $20 entry donation to www.dogsinpartyhats.com.  Each of the twelve winning entrants – with flavor names like “Labradoodlicious Swirl”, “Tutti Frutti Cutie” and “Santa Claws Puppermint” – will serve as inspiration for a featured flavor-of-the-month gelato at Via Vanti! in 2010.

Although most entries originated from the Greater New York area, the winners hailed from as far west as Washington state and as far south as Florida.  Costumes and headgear ranged from a pirate’s getup (“Yum Rum Raisin”) to a Carmen Miranda style headdress (“Lime in the Coconut”) to a simple lampshade (“Life of the Party”).  The winning breeds were equally diverse, in all colorations and sizes.

Each winning canine will receive a lavish gift pack from just dogs! gourmet in Mount Kisco, NY.  Each proud owner will be entitled to a “Year of Gelato” – one pint per month throughout 2010 – at Via Vanti!

A handful of other entrants were also selected for special recognition.  These included a “Beautiful Spirit” award to a dog who, despite her loss of vision from progressive retinal atrophy, “tries so hard & makes us so happy.”  Another, for “Lifetime Achievement” went to a lab (“Touchdown Tangerine”) whose breeding career, so far, has resulted in 126 pups, 36 of which have become guide dogs and 3 of which are now breeders as well.  “He is full of zest for life and his work,” remarks his owner.

“Guiding Eyes for the Blind is a serious enterprise, one that’s about bringing greater hope and freedom to the lives of blind and visually impaired people.  But all dogs – whether they be service dogs or pets – bring much joy to their owners, so we see this upbeat initiative as a wonderful fit,” says Lisa Deutsch, Vice President, Marketing and Development at Guiding Eyes.

The “Dogs in Party Hats” contest and fundraiser was conceived by Carla Gambescia, founder and owner of the acclaimed Via Vanti! Restaurant and Gelateria in the historic Mount Kisco, NY train station.  “This contest is all about creativity, community and fun.  We’re thrilled with the enthusiasm and great entries generated by this year’s event, which we see as just a beginning,” says Ms Gambescia.  Ms. Gambescia plans to continue fundraising by selling t-shirts and tote bags featuring the 2010 Dogs in Party Hats Flavors of the Month with profits going to Guiding Eyes. 

Guiding Eyes for the Blind was founded in 1954 to enrich the lives of blind and visually impaired men and women by providing them with the freedom to travel safely, thereby assuring greater independence, dignity and expanded horizons of opportunity. Since that time, Guiding Eyes has become one of the foremost guide dog schools in the world, graduating more than 7,000 guide dog teams. It provides superbly bred Guiding Eyes dogs, professional training and follow-up support services to students at no cost to them, and depends on contributions to fulfill its mission. The comprehensive cost of breeding, raising, preparing, training, and supporting a Guiding Eyes team is $45,000.

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