Canine Sings Out, Hawker Howls - at Least it So Sounds to Many Ears: Jimmy Sounders, Whiskers Form Unique Duo at Gansett as the Malady Lingers On, Daily Racing Form, 1955-06-28


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Canine Sings Out, Hawker Howls At Least It So Sounds to Many Ears Jimmy Saunders, Whiskers t y . Form Unique Duo at Gansett As the Malady Lingers On By FRED GALIANI Not since Jimmy Durante and Helen Traubel teamed up has there been a more mismatched singing duo than that which warbles loud and long every morning in the stable area at Narragansett Park. We left Gansett some days ago, but the j "malady" lingers on. -Lets get along with i the story. We are referring to a man and a dog, a discordant team that has achieved a measure of fame in this sector, thus prov viding evidence of the victory, in some cases, registered by just plain noise. The human half of the combination is Jimmy Saunders, who distributes The Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form at the track. He is they say a tenor. The canine is a "contralto," to coin a name a seven-year-old, black and brown, husky airedale. His real monicker is Prince Favor;, but he is called Whiskers by his owner, trainer Ed Poncelet, and all who know him. Early every morning, Saunders journeys to the backstretch to vend his wares, and in the manner of all newspaper hawkers, shouts out the names of his papers. He is met at the track kitchen every day by Whiskers. Its a ritual. This half of a quartet from Rigoletto sounds like eight people.- It also displays some virtuosity that would make the Metropolitan Operas Mr. Bing go bang! I Saunders sings out, "Racing Form, Tele-I graph, Racing Form, Telegraph." As he " , does, Whiskers sits on his haunches, throws back his big, brown head and, j squinting his eyes like those pseudo-roman-I tic crooners who is HIS Debbie Reynolds, wed like to know!, joins in with his singing or is it howling? When Saunders sings out "Telegraph," Whiskers hits a high key. As the vendor drops an octave or two to boom -.out "Ra-a-acing For-r-rm," the airedale joins in as a basso not so prof undo. i I The performance completed, with the sun acting as a spotlight and the barns as t t j a backdrop, Whiskers returns to the Poncelet track room and crawls under the bed. Can it be he is discouraged by Saunders poor harmonizing? Voice Could Be Recorded Whiskers fame has spread. Now it wont jbe surprising if Victor records decides to wax this bow-wows voice. It sure would go with the trademark. Or is it possible some touring sideshow will hire him as a "barker?" At any rate. Whiskers warbling received so much notice that a local TV station "starred" him a couple of years ago. He made such a hit that hundreds of listeners wrote in requesting an encore. Whiskers, no fool, ate the letters, it is said, properly to digest the contents. He has yet to come through with the encore, so future messages should be written on dog biscuit. Sunday is the duos big day. Thats when the audience is heavy, because there are I many visitors to the stable area. Occasion- 1 . : , ; y - : ally, there are some whove heard about Saunders and Whiskers; but dont believe the elaborate build-ups. Theyve got to be shown sometimes to their financial disadvantage. One fellow just could not believe the pair could sing together. One of the swipes bet him they could. Mr. Saunders and Mr. Whiskers, a money combination if ever there was one, went to town. Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDoriald could not have surpassed them that morning. There was ho need to resort to any local Tattersalls to settle the bet. As yet, there is no record of the reaction of the other denizens of the stable area the dogs, cats, goats, chickens, geese, parrots, ducks, monkeys one man even had a puma for a pet! to this hectic harmony. The measure of success is imitation. As Jimmy, Durante is wont to say, "Everybody is trying to get into the act." Over at Johnny Neruds barn there is a tiny, nondescript mutt named Sneak. When Saunders makes his rounds there, Sneak chimes in with a pitiful howl that Jhas neighboring horsemen chorusing, "Shut up!" "Strictly a Johnny-come-lately," comments, Saunders when asked about Sneak. "He just does it because my yelling hurts his ears. Whiskers enjoys it. Hes a real pro. The more people around us, the louder he sings." This tuneful tendency on the part of rival dogs is discouraging to trainer Bill Hinphy, who is pretty good at teaching young and old pooches new tricks. At present he has one who sneezes, loud or soft, according to the command. "Now, if this bum could only do something in tune, wed get somewhere," says Bill. Lassie? Whos she?

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