By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal
“A really companionable and indispensable dog is an accident of nature. You can’t get it by breeding for it, and you can’t buy it with money. It just happens along.”
– E B White
I missed the first night of the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this past week, but thankfully while I was channel surfing last Tuesday evening, I landed on it.
The two dogs at my house had different reactions when I settled in to watch.
Thom Thumb II seemed happy and content to watch others of his pedigreed persuasion strut their stuff at Madison Square Garden.
George, on the other hand, a handsome mixed-breed canine, jumped off the couch, retiring quickly to another room rather than hear folks sing the praises of those pups with papers.
I assured my George that, in my opinion, his kind is the best kind, but I’m sure I remain in the dog house for continuing to watch the dog show with great interest.
How can anyone who loves or even appreciates dogs not be intrigued by the whole process that is the Westminster dog show?
If you’ve never looked into the history of the dog show, you’ve missed out.
It started in 1877, which means it became a reality even before the light bulb.
Here are some more fun facts, found on the club’s website, about the big event held for our furry friends:
• The dog show was first televised in 1948, three years before Lucille Ball entered our living rooms in “I Love Lucy.”
• The dog show is the country’s second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby.
• The precursor to the Westminster Kennel Club was the Westminster Breeding Association, started in 1876 by a group of men who met often in the bar of a New York hotel to share hunting tales and brag about their dogs.
• In 1988, Anna Whitney was the first woman to judge a dog show in America, when she was assigned 117 St. Bernards.
• In 1917, Filax of Lewanno, a German Shepherd who’d helped save 54 wounded soldiers in World War I, was feted at Westminster.
• In 1928, Mrs. Reginald F. Mayhew became the first woman to serve on a panel of five and judge Best in Show.
• And in 2012, George Bailey Criss pouted in the bedroom rather than watch the show with his Chihuahua brother.
If he had watched, he would have seen absolutely no Jack Russell representation in the terrier group. The closest kin was a Parson Russell Terrier not nearly as cute as George.
If he had watched, he would surely be grateful his mama does not spend hours grooming him until his coif makes him look nothing like a canine.
If he had watched, perhaps he’d have learned to simply enjoy observing the pup participants with the assurance he is just as great as any of them.
Congrats to a Pekingese named Malachy who took Best in Show.
A friend said Malachy’s coif reminded her of Chaka Khan. I’d say he looked more like an extra fuzzy extraterrestrial.
Really, George, papers or not, you remain my Best in Show.