Saturday, February 15, 2014

Could This Be What They Mean?

The Missus and I are dog people.  I thought it best to let you in on that secret just in case you had not yet leaped to that conclusion based upon the countless photographs of Rosalita that pepper my day-to-day virtual existence, including but not limited to the profile picture on my Facebook account.

We spent several hours this week doing what we do quite often during this particular week of February.  We watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  It annually occupies Madison Square Garden for a few days each February.  One February - a number of years ago - we actually went into the Garden to check out the first day's day-time session.  It was a very cool experience.  

When we arrived early in the morning to watch the day's festivities, the Garden was at least 80% empty.  While we had tickets for specific seats, with no one in the building, those of us who were there were permitted to sit wherever we pleased provided that the person who had actually purchased the ticket for that particular seat did not arrive and want to occupy it.  We were able to see action going on in a number of rings simultaneously as they judged a number of the breeds to determine which one from each breed would advance to the next phase, which is the Best of Group.  We were also permitted to walk around backstage and check out the dogs as they prepared for their moment in the sun.  You think you know fun?  Spend several minutes in the company of the various hounds and howlers who compete in this particular competition, one cooler and friendlier than the next.  It was a hellaciously good time.

Monday night we watched - and rooted for - the dogs that were competing for first place in the first four of the Show's seven Groups, including the Non-Sporting Group.  Full Disclosure, Part Deux:  Non-Sporting is one of the two Groups at Westminster of which I am not an enormous fan although I do like it significantly more than I do the Toy Group.  With regard to the latter, I have a hard time accepting that an animal capable of being transported from place-to-place in Paris Hilton's handbag satisfies the dictionary defintion of "dog".  

With regard to the Non-Sporting Group, my gripe is really focused upon the breed that seems to win with metronomic regularity.  To my eye, there is no more ridiculous-looking dog at Westminster than the Standard Poodle.  The damn thing is shaved down to the skin over roughly 50% of its body whereas the remaining 50% is replete with hair that makes it appear as if it was manufactured at Q-Tip factory.

And do not even get me started with the part of the 'do that leaves this poor animal with what appear to be two fuzzy testicles glued to its lower back.  If Liberace is reincarnated as a dog, then he will come back tickling the ivories as a show-styled Standard Poodle.

In fairness to the Standard Poodle and in an effort to plumb the depths of my own bias, I did a bit of perusing on-line to see whether this animal - not all dolled up for a dog show - really looks as it does when it is competing for a crown.  Imagine my surprise, not to mention my ear-to-ear grin, when I did a Google Image search for "Standard Poodle" and - in addition to all of the show-dog pictures that popped up (such as the one above) - this beauty appeared as well:

That - to me at least - is a beautiful animal and one far more dog-like in its appearance than its "All Dolled Up" counterpart.  I say that in recognition of the fact that the good people who have been raising Standard Poodles to be show dogs have had remarkable success with them looking just the way this year's Best in Group pooch looked.  They are not going to change what has worked well for them and I do not blame them.  I would not either.   Of course, I would not be a teller of the truth if I did not acknowledge how happy I was Tuesday night when the Best of Show prize was awarded to Sky, the wire fox terrier who was the Queen of the Terrier Group.  I would have been even happier had the bloodhound who captured the Hounds Group emerged as Best of Show but Sky did look quite at home in the Championship Bowl.

I would think long and hard about having my Standard Poodle develop a friendship with one of his compatriots from the Hound Group or the Herding Group.  It is nice to have a dog that actually looks like a dog, such as an Irish Wolfhound, watching your back when a hostile crew of Chihuahuas or Pomeranians come rolling up on you at the Dog Park....

....especially when you are wearing a set of fuzzy balls on your back.


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