In today's New York Times, Merce Cunningham garnered the entire Page A22 ("continued from Page A1"), consistent with the paper's policy of chronicling accomplishments when a celebrity dies. But would the choreographer have felt diminished if he'd known that he'd be linked in death with Martha Watson Stern, "Dog Breeder, 72," also honored with an editorial obit, though much smaller, and on Page A23 (not "continued from Page A1")?
"Are dog breeders now considered celebrities?" I asked my husband, who doesn't share my preoccupation with rite of passage announcements and their reflection of one's status. Not just any dead person can get a nod from the Times obit editors. The newspaper has strict standards, but Martha Watson Stern was deemed newsworthy by virtue of having owned the Texas kennel that bred Bo, the Obamas' dog.
This is a big day for breeders, who, with this recognition, will find themselves being asked to endorse rawhide bones, provide book blurbs and help getting kids into nursery schools and colleges. Names from Westminster will be dropped at Hampton parties. "Oh, she bred the bitch Rahm Emanuel almost bought for his kids."
To show their gratitude, breeders might consider discouraging paper training, at least on the New York Times.