Dog Days

dogI tried to watch the Westminster Dog Show. I really did. But after five minutes of watching overweight handlers trying to keep up with their schnauzers, I gave up.

I guess what really turned me off was that the dogs involved weren’t actually acting like dogs. There was no mischief or nipping at the judges’ heels or inappropriate scratching. They were all too perfect: perfectly behaved, perfectly coiffed, perfectly cute. Like Stepford dogs.

It’s the same reason I cringe whenever I hear about those JonBenet Ramsay-style kiddie pageants. There are no tantrums or whining or begging for chicken nuggets. Sure, the stage mothers are full intrigue and back-stabbing. But the kids involved don’t actually act like kids.

Plus the whole thing seems so arbitrary. I realize there are breed standards the judges look for. But for the life of me I can’t tell the difference between one well-behaved poodle and the next. Or between two little yappy things that are nothing more than glorified cats. I’m also somehow disturbed by the whole sense of the “perfect” member of the breed. I can’t help but hear overtones of the Aryan ideal. And I’d certainly hate to be judged against the stereotypical human by, say, a bunch of hyper-critical otters. I’d come up short based on height alone.

I guess I prefer mutts like Delilah who probably won’t win any behavorial contests but can dole out unconditional love with the best of ’em. There’s a reason “God” spelled backwards is “Yahweh.” Or something like that.

6 Comments on “Dog Days”

  1. Neva Rae Fox says:

    Yes, I agree Tim, but three cheers to the old guy who won Westminster this year. See – age isn’t a barrier in the dog world. And three cheers to last year’s winner — a beagle named Uno — who has traveled across the country in support of therapy dogs for kids, seniors and wounded vets. A dog witha cause — ya gotta love it!

  2. Father Tim says:

    Yup, “Stump” that 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel took top honors this year. Pretty amazing since it basically means a 70-year-old won a beauty contest.

    A friend who actually attended the show this year wrote to tell me that you can go behind the scenes and meet all the dogs and their owners. She said the owners were lovely and assured me the dogs all acted like “real” dogs. Good to hear.

  3. +clumber says:

    Father Tim,
    Not just a beauty contest, but also a health contest… which oddly enough is a theory in evolution for animals as diverse as peacocks and humans… the breed standards exist to insure health. Watch the judges look at mouths, teeth, ears, eyes, bite, hip movement (hip stuff is big for us dogs… and a good reason to keep weight off your dogs!). They are also gonna throw out any dog that has a bad temperament.

    Unfortunately some of it does come across as “Best in Show” type of humor, (which is a terrifically funny movie) but imagine putting a diocesan convention on TV and letting us poke fun at the overweight bishops and priests and parish people. The judges are good at what they do. You might like obedience trials more, however, as it looks like the dogs are a little more reactive and “working” instead of just powder puff babies…

    +clumber (who needs to go work off a bit of Valentine cake he has just consumed, to insure his hips are healthy!)

  4. Father Tim says:

    Thanks for this, +Clumber. Clears up a few things for me. The very idea of televising diocesan conventions makes me cringe — there are some clergy who like to hear themselves talk WITHOUT a camera pointed at them.

    I should apologize for the third sentence of this post — a couple people told me or implied that I was being overly snarky. And they’re right. So, if I offended anyone, I’m sorry.

    But at least I never took steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003.

  5. +clumber says:

    And just imagine the color commentary and play by play announcers at a Diocesan Convention! “Wait a minute, Ed, it looks like Father Wonder is going to go long with his comments! The officials are looking at their watches. And there it is, a penalty flag on the rector of St. Barnabas! Now the mike goes over to the other side and it’s fumbled by the A-V people! They’ve lost the sound and now they’ve called time out for a coffee break. When we return, they’ll do creative things with flip charts and tape them to the walls after which they will forget about them. Wait a minute, it looks like the resolution is coming to a vote! This is huge! And it passes! Unbelievable! Let’s see that again. ”


  6. […] Fr. Tim goes to a dog show. […]

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