February 12, 2003

I love dogs. I'm crazy about them. Most of them anyway. But I could never be a "dog person," at least not the type that shows them. Those people, well, they're a different breed entirely.

My aversion to the dog show crowd, which, I should add, includes scores of pleasant people, some of whom I've come to know over the years, is compounded by what are to me the inexplicable results of the major dog shows.

If you pay even passing attention to these events you likely already have noticed that the judges have an enduring and unshakable bias in favor of certain breeds: Terriers, Poodles, Retrievers, Labradors, and lap dogs of the most annoying sort.

The Bulldog, also known as the English Bulldog, which happens to be my favorite breed, and by a long shot, always gets stiffed in these competitions.

Case in point: This year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which ended yesterday.

The winner? A terrier, of course. Specifically, Torums Scarf Michael, a Kerry Blue Terrier.

Bulldogs are shown in the non-sporting group, which is as good a place as any since the category's name befits the lazy easy-going character of the Bulldog. In this group the Bulldog goes up against some of the judges' favorite breeds, breeds that once again finished higher at Westminster this year.

First place in the non-sporting group went to a Standard Poodle named Ale Kai Mikimoto On Fifth, a dog named after a Japanese jewelry store for crying out loud. Second place was awarded to Paray's I Told You So, a Bichon Frise, which is sort of like a little noisy poodle. In third place, Northwind Stormy Night, a Lhasa Apso, a breed about which I think I need say nothing at all. And fourth place was occupied by DeLamer's Fire Island Fox, a Schipperke, a deservedly little-known breed that looks like something time forgot on the island of Tasmania.

I encourage you to take a look at the photos of the non-sporting group's award winners. Unfortunately, Westminster hasn't published photos of the highest-rated Bulldogs (best of breed went to DiToro's Showbiz Kander and Ebb), so we can't do a direct comparison. Instead, look at those photos and tell me whether you would pick any of them over my beloved Mildred, who wasn't even in the show.


I think this picture speaks for itself.

[Post-publication addendum (February 13): The inimitable voice at TBogg agrees. Well, except for that stuff about Basset Hounds, my third favorite breed of dog.]

[Post-publication addendum (February 13): Reader N.T. writes:

"Good points -- it is always the 'fru-fru' dogs that seem to win. But I must take issue with your assessment of the Schipperke. This is no poofy, fru-fru dog. They were bred as barge dogs and sheepherders in Belgium, and are starting to be used for search and rescue, to go where larger scenting dogs can't.

"I have one. This dog plays with kids, runs down squirrels at 20 yards, herds our cats (a whole new level of indignity for them), and has a four-foot standing vertical jump. No 'fru' here. One solid dog, close to indestructible.

"Of course, when the Westminster judges find that out, (plus find out that their coats look that good naturally -- they have a water-resistant dual coat similar to otters) they'll never place that high again.

"And Mildred should definitely win something."]


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