Archive for March, 2007

March 24, 2007

Okay, I am a week late on the Home Show. But this post is about one part of the Home Show we don’t think about until we get there, and it’s a transition to another big Convention Center event set for next week-end– the Western Pa Kennel Club dog show.
I actually had a dog lover tell me she has never been to a dog show, having only seen “Best In Show”(screamingly funny movie), and she worried that all the people were weird. Some are, some aren’t. I always go, to people-watch, as well as dog- watch. But, I go more to shop. They have great vendors for dog beds, toys, and food products.And I got a gorgeous bronze lamp with two Deerhounds cavorting (if you have ever seen Deerhounds play, they do just that–cavort–they are so incredibly graceful), since I have owned two of them. They are my favorite breed.

There are also shelter representatives, and entertaining agility and obedience competitions. Nothing like watching a miniature dachsund tear around a scaled-down agility course.

Anyway, I am really far afield now. Back to the Home Show. One of the most crowded aisles is where all the shelters and pet rescue booths are located. Booths for birds, Greyhounds, Great Danes, and containment systems. I like all the chocolates and cookies you get with a donation.

These Greyhounds from Going Home Greyhounds are with the nephew of one of our legendary photographers, Gary O’Data (Gary’s been at WTAE LONGER than I have). His nephew is Jon, and Jon’s wife is Judy. One of these dogs is theirs, the other is up for adoption. These former racing dogs make wonderful companions–they are docile inside, but love to run like mad outside. But don’t let them run off-lead unless it is within an enclosure–you will most certainly lose them. Steel City Greyhounds was also represented at the Home Show.

And isn’t this a face you could love—I’m talking about the dog, or course. His name is Samson, and he belongs to the volunteers at the Dane Connection booth–a Great Dane rescue organization. Not surprisingly, Danes end up in shelters, and rescue situations, because people buy them without knowing how much work a giant breed is. I once knew a guy who bought one because he wanted a tall dog that fit his stature, and matched his decor. That decor was black and white, so naturally, he got a Harlequin Great Danes. Go figure.

Now this little guy was one of the last puppies up for adoption that week-end at the Humane Society booth. I am sure he was snapped up before the week-end was over–His name was Brutus, and he was just adorable.

This Cattle Dog mix is a little bit older, but no less adorable. She was at the Animal Friends booth, and I do so hope someone took her home.

I would also like to use this forum to thank all the adopters and people who fostered animals from the Humane Society on the North Side when they re-did the floor. Kelly Frey did a touching live shot with “Bear”, whose coat matched her hair perfectly, and would have been great for her and her husband, had he not just been adopted. Kelly also put out the word on our in-house computers to alert people who might be able to foster. It is amazing who steps up when the need is pressing.

I have just watched the piece Wendy wrote about the couple in Munhall who lost both their Goldens to this pet food nightmare. It was beautifully done. Watching their pain, I am reminded once again of the quote by the famous nature author, Roger Caras. “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” I also remember one of the documentaries he narrated. He recounted a Native American legend about how people and dogs became so close. I “think” it goes like this. When the Great Spirit was creating the difference between humans and the other animals, an abyss began to form. As it widened, and there seemed no way to bridge the gap, the dog leaped across, and stood next to man.


March 19, 2007

The past several days, viewers of Channel 4 Action News and readers of have learned of our station’s deep affection for an employee who died last week.

Amy Mullaney, five months shy of her 30th birthday, was buried in her native Greensburg on the day she called her favorite holiday–St Patrick’s Day. Dozens of us at WTAE had attended the viewings, along with what seemed half of Greensburg and the surrounding area. As is so often the case, we learned endearing details about her life from friends and family, details we had missed in the rush of the work day– her love of wings, her love of softball, her love of things Irish.

But at the funeral Saturday, we learned so much more. And it was the stuff of inspiration. It came from her parents, who should never have had to bury a child, a child who had just had a child of her own eight months ago. Her father,Dave, spoke to a very crowded Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, from a letter he had given Amy before she died. In it, he thanked her for her unfailing compassion, courage, and grace. Her wry sense of humor that manifested itself even when she was eight . At that age, she was playing in a softball tournament. After the first day, she appeared the next morning decked out in her blue uniform, with little, pink socks instead of her uniform socks. He asked why, and Amy replied that several people had thought she was a boy, despite her blond hair sticking out of her cap, and she wanted to make sure they knew she was a girl.

But more importantly, he reminded us of the calming effect Amy had on everyone..and it hit home. Many nights, Amy stayed late, and her desk looked down the hallway, where we walked from the newsroom to the stairs to exit. She would always say good-bye, in a voice that sparkled as much as her gorgeous blue eyes. Often, we were leaving wrung out, irritated, or even saddened by the day’s events– but you know, her voice did calm you and lightened your step as you headed home. At the time, I didn’t know why.

Perhaps it was because she was so devoid of pretense, so authentic, that she didn’t smack you over the head with her goodness. It was real. As real as her bravery in a five year battle against brain cancer. A bravery her husband ,Mike, her parents, Marlene and Dave, her sisters, and Mike’s family will all most certainly recount to her child as he grows up. To watch them all pass little Michael around during the service– a child that looks so much like Amy –was at once, comforting and heartbreaking.

But it was in the homily that the priest challenged us to take this day and make it something more. He said, in the end, Amy had peeled away the layers of life– down to what was most important. Faith, family, friends, love. It radiated through the service–and why not? Amy had planned it all before she died. And as we listened to her husband say the final good-bye at the cemetery, it all made sense.

As Promotions Coordinator, Amy’s job was to organize events, to be the bridge between communities and the station. That often included finding an on-air person to emcee a charity event, or speak to a school group — bringing people together. And that sense of community was her final gift to all of us last week. This beautiful woman, who seemed totally unaware of how spectacular she looked, brought some sense of resolve to so many people that day. I think, through it all, many of us realized that when someone like Amy Mullaney touches your life — take notice. Take time to know them… We now know Amy so much better. I only wish we had done it sooner…

March 13, 2007

Well, he pulled it off. Fans are crowing that Mario Lemieux has gotten another hat trick, this one off the ice. Pulling the franchise out of obscurity into the stratosphere of Lord Stanley. Then pulling it out of bankruptcy, and now–finally– into a new arena, and a new era.

Of course, there are many others who have helped along the way, and, gentleman that he is, Mario would be the first to credit them. But, we all know people who are capable of galvanizing others to act, to do better, and Mario certainly seems to be one of them. Not to mention the enormous amount of charity work he and his wife have done in our area.

Another guy who deserves a lot of credit is Ken Sawyer. I have gotten to know him and his wife, Shirley in the past several years, and they must be ecstatic right now. He so did want this to work out.

I couldn’t be happier for all of them. Hockey was part of my very beginnings in Pittsburgh. Literally. My first night here as a new employee, my then-husband and I sat in our hotel room, and watched probably the most amazing sports upset in history-the US victory over Russia in the 1980 Olympics. Hockey was also our only connection with my former residence of Birmingham. My husband had been a business partner with several Birmingham Bulls–one was former Montreal Canadien Phil Roberto. We also knew a number of young Bulls players who went on to careers in the NFL–Mark Napier, Rod Langway, Ricky Vaive. Sometimes we would go to Pens games, just to see them. Hockey was also the first sport I ever covered–sometimes phoning in reports from Bulls games. But the real treat was getting to know the legendary Frank Mahovlich, when he was playing his last years in Birmingham. He once talked about his brother Peter, who, yes– was playing in Pittsburgh. Two years later, I was here.

11 years later, in 1991, Stan Savran and I were covering the Pens in Minnesota, for the finals of the Stanley Cup, against the North Stars. It was game six, the Pens were about to win, and I had gone down into the tunnel, waiting for the end. The Cup was there, on a cloth draped table, ready to be rolled out. I peered at the engraving, the legends who have etched their names into the games history, and I found
Frank Mahovlich’s name. Then the game was over, and the most amazing celebration began. I will never forget the scene in the locker room– all the wives , friends, and reporters piled in there. It didn’t end there. Months later, I covered the Pens visit to the White House. It was a grand time for this city, and it continued into the next year, when they won the second Cup, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks.

Yes, Pittsburgh is the Steelers. But Mario and that team took hockey and wove it inextricably into the sports landscape here. The thought of losing the team was inconceivable to anyone who followed the Pens back then. The son of a friend of mine was one of them. He was just a boy in ’91 and is now working in New York. He intends to move back someday soon. However, he told his parents he would ABSOLUTELY not return if the Penguins left. And his parents are part of the ownership group! Now, you can hear them, and many others, audibly exhaling–and looking forward to at least one, if not more, Stanley Cups.