2011-08-04 / News

Renowned weather dog to make appearance on the island

BY MARGO SULLIVAN


Schmitty, bottom right, is an 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier who has helped predict the weather over the years. Above, she keeps an eye over the Jamestown skies from her home on Goat Island. Elly Mc- Guire, Schmitty’s owner, says that she plans on making an appearance on Conanicut Island soon. 
PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Schmitty, bottom right, is an 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier who has helped predict the weather over the years. Above, she keeps an eye over the Jamestown skies from her home on Goat Island. Elly Mc- Guire, Schmitty’s owner, says that she plans on making an appearance on Conanicut Island soon. PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN If you’re wondering about the change from the cold, wet miserable spring to the summer full of blue skies, there is an explanation whispered among meteorologists.

Sometime after Memorial Day, Schmitty the Weather Dog returned to her post as pet-in-residence at the Hyatt Regency. She brought the sunshine with her, according to her owner Elly McGuire.

If you haven’t seen the little Yorkie with the oversized pink shades on WJAR Channel 10’s Friday morning weather updates, she will make a Jamestown appearance soon.

Meanwhile, the 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier has kept an eye on the skies over Jamestown from her cushion inside the hotel lobby on Goat Island. Every morning at 11, Schmitty helps Ron Trotta, a freelance meteorologist attached to World News with Diane Sawyer, deliver the forecast. Her sidekick Pudge, a 5-yearold Yorkie, also performs, and on a recent Saturday morning, the two terriers delighted a dozen or so children with their tricks, which included “spelling” the word “toast.”

McGuire, a Rhode Island native who now lives in New York City, brought Schmitty home in 2000.

“I was working in the radio business, and my life felt kind of unfulfi lled,” she said. “I had the urge for a dog.” She checked out shelters for dogs that needed homes, but couldn’t find one that would be happy in her “very small” apartment. After researching small breeds, she decided the Yorkshire terrier would probably fit best into her life.

“They don’t shed, they’re hypoallergenic and they’re stubborn,” she said. “I like that trait. I’m Irish.”

So, the little dog that would one day win fame as Schimmty, the real New Yorkie, began her new life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Along West 77th Street on their way to Central Park, McGuire and the new puppy made friends with the firemen at Ladder Co. 25.

McGuire remembers the daily banter: “Hey, lady, can’t you get a real dog?” Although they teased Mc- Guire about her pint-sized puppy, they were crazy about Schmitty, Mc- Guire said.

“They gave her treats, and they loved her to death,” she said.

The morning after the Sept. 11 attacks, their lives had changed, she said. On the way to the park, McGuire and Schmitty walked past Ladder Co. 25 and found a “shrine,” Trotta remembered. Nine of their firefighter friends were gone, killed trying to save the people in the World Trade Towers.

When Ladder Co. 25 announced a scholarship fund in memory of the fallen firefighters, McGuire decided to give them a donation. She also gave the firefighters a picture of Schmitty with an American flag and wearing red, white and blue sunglasses.

“It was classic Schmitty,” Trotta said.

The firefighters put Schmitty’s picture in the window, and when people saw it, they reacted.

“They smiled through their tears,” McGuire said.

That gave her an idea. She took more pictures of Schmitty and started a line of greeting cards to raise money for the Uniformed Firefighters Association Scholarship Fund.

After that first success, Schmitty and McGuire followed up with other good causes, such as helping animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. This time, instead of greeting cards, Schmitty modeled a necklacestyle dog collar. Money from the sales went to shelters in the disaster area.

“I’ve become an animal activist,” McGuire said.

Then in 2008 when presidential candidates went on the stump, Schmitty also traveled cross-country, urging people to go to the polls. On that “Bark the Vote” campaign, her next career as a weather forecaster was born, McGuire said.

Trotta had started doing the daily forecasts over YouTube from their Bark the Vote location, McGuire said, when he realized his accuracy improved every time he did the weather with Schmitty.

“Dogs know,” McGuire said, “and Schmitty has a nose for weather.”

On a recent Saturday, Schmitty turned a practiced eye out the window as a bolt of lightning clawed across the sky. She wasn’t scared, though. Thunder and lightning do not rattle the weather dog, McGuire said.

Now at 11, Schmitty still performs in the weather show at the Hyatt Regency, but she’s handing over some of her duties to 5-year-old Pudge.

“Schmitty’s the teacher now,” Trotta said. Most of the time, Pudge is actually the dog doing the weather on Channel 10 on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.

“Every famous dog has a standin,” McGuire joked. She added that Schmitty has had some health problems. “But like Zsa Zsa, her fans don’t need details.”

Meanwhile, Schmitty still is the queen at the Hyatt, and last month, she once again made the New York Times society page. Invited to the Wakehurst gala in honor of Newport socialite Noreen Drexel, Schmitty was introduced to 600 people.

“They all wanted to meet Schmitty,” McGuire laughed.

Schmitty and Pudge’s secret, Mc- Guire told the children at the Hyatt, is simple.

“They give back. These guys have become very famous because they give back,” she said.

Although no date has been set, Schmitty plans to visit Jamestown to give islanders a future glimpse of the weather.

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