Dog and Pony Show

Maxwell was trying to catch her eye. Suzanne Bartsch begged the paparazzi to snap a cheek-to-cheek shot. Kim Cattrall shamelessly French-kissed her before the assembled glitterati at her coming-out cocktail soirée on a recent evening at Fred’s restaurant in the basement of Barneys.

Weighing in at an enviable fourteen pounds, the new darling of Seventh Avenue is Sweetie, the small black mutt who “writes,” with owner Mark Welsh, a new column in Elle, dishing about everything from a post-holiday stint in rehab with Lil’ Kim to an organ-meat-only lunch at Balthazar with Michael Kors.

At Barneys, a champagne-wielding crowd has congregated around the small dog. “This is Sweetie’s agent, Tanya from Mary Evans,” says Welsh, a New Zealand-born former ad copywriter who, with boyfriend John Bartlett, found the dog four years ago near their Rhinebeck country house. “And this is Rick Kantor, Sweetie’s accountant!” Orlando Pita, the hairstylist Sweetie shares with Madonna, stops by for a quick hello just as a musclebound guest scoops the chic canine into his arms, gushing, “I’m Sweetie’s godmother!”

After just three Elle columns chronicling the fashion demimonde (Fashion Wire Daily previously published her runway reports), a book proposal for the dog’s bitchy commentary is in the works. In a few weeks, Sweetie will jet to the Oscars, first-class and accompanied by a bodyguard to watch over her diamond-and-platinum necklace, on loan from Harry Winston. While Bartlett’s marquee name may have a good deal to do with Sweetie’s swift trajectory, Welsh insists it’s also her Everywoman appeal. “Her body’s a bit like Elizabeth Taylor’s; you can only shoot her from the face up,” he says. “She’s not symmetrically perfect.”

As waiters offer foie gras to guests and their thankfully housebroken four-legged charges, a bulldog named Humbert comes over to pay his respects. He is snubbed with a dainty yelp. “To tell you the truth,” says Welsh, “Sweetie doesn’t really like dogs.”

Dog and Pony Show