Dogs have been known to help solve mysteries, take a bite out of crime, even save little children who fall into a well. And at the top of the list of impressive canines is one of our all-time favorites, Schmitty the Weather Dog.
You may recognize her from YouTube or her appearances at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where she did a “pawcast” weather report this year with meteorologist dad Ron Trotta. “It was just a fabulous experience. Schmitty the Weather Dog loved it,” Ron recalls. “We went to the Master Agility Championships show, and we filed the weather report on WestminsterKennelClub.org. [But] the exciting thing was that Gretchen Carlson from Fox News and CNN’s Jeanne Moos came over to interview us.”
“So many people wanted to shake paws and take her picture. It was exhausting,” adds Elly McGuire, Schmitty’s human mom.
“People wanted to do selfies with Schmitty,” Ron says. “She definitely became even more of a celebrity there.”
Aside from attending Westminster, Schmitty has spent the past year doing everything from joining Instagram and visiting elementary schools in support of National Earth Science Week to conducting a weather and science assembly at the STEM Institute of Manhattan. She and Ron also were recently the weather team for the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Chicago.
“Schmitty the Weather Dog’s commitment to bringing science to young students, especially girls, has been really fulfilling,” Ron says. And the approach is completely unique. Have you heard of any other pet using literacy and music in the school to teach science concepts? Schmitty, Ron, and Elly have a ball using books and an electric keyboard to read and sing along with children on topics related to the weather.
Interestingly, during school visits, students frequently think Schmitty is a puppet. Ron introduces the four-pound Yorkshire Terrier clad in a T-skirt and her checkerboard sunglasses, also known as “Schmitty shades.” It’s easy to mistake the pint-sized pup for a stuffed animal or doll. But Schmitty takes it all in stride, also teaching lessons from Schmitty the Weather Dog: Daydream, a book that Elly penned a little more than a year ago. Schmitty and Elly donate 20 percent of revenues back into the schools.
Students also learn a lot about respect for animals and pet responsibility. Since Schmitty lives in New York City, she instructs kids to put their hands out for dogs passing by to sniff, rather than walking up to them and getting close to their faces.
Of course, Schmitty hasn’t always been so famous. It all started back when Ron, Elly, and Schmitty were on a cross-country Bark the Vote tour focusing on small animal shelters. They were in the midst of a miserable storm in Minnesota, where Ron was filing online weather reports, and Elly suddenly had the idea for Ron to hold Schmitty while giving the forecast. “Schmitty has a nose for the weather, like all animals,” they gush.
Given the brutal New York winters, Schmitty kind of wishes she was in Australia or Florida during those months. “She loves to travel. She’s been to California, and she also loves to travel in the car,” Ron says. But, for now, she’s staying put in the city that never sleeps and enjoying her work as a philanthropist, businesswoman, and educator.
On the horizon, Schmitty would like to visit more schools and spread a love of learning. She has a new theme song coming out that Ron, a renowned ragtime piano player, wrote for her, and there are plans to release it on iTunes. Plus, Elly has another book in the works. Also, as the spokesdog for the New Yorkie fashion line, Schmitty keeps up with her philanthropic efforts. A portion of all New Yorkie product purchases goes to Angel On A Leash (an organization that creates programs to train pups to go into hospitals), while shipping and handling is done by the “men in blue” of The Doe Fund in NYC (a nonprofit that helps the homeless, including veterans, achieve stable self-sufficiency via transitional jobs, housing, and education).
It’s clear that Schmitty’s days are full, but when she’s not working, visiting schools or doing the weather, she loves to chase squirrels in Central Park and also sing “Yappy Happy Birthday” with Ron. They’ve even recorded a birthday song performance for Betty White.
Speaking of birthdays, ever wonder how old Schmitty is? Good luck finding out! “Schmitty is eternal,” Ron says about his canine companion. “She’s like Lassie. She lives forever.” And she’ll probably never slow down. “We are just keeping up with this four-legged phenomenon,” Ron beams.
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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).