Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Working Class Dog

I was sitting around the other night (code for looking at dumb stuff on the net) when my mom called. She wanted to let me know that the Working Group of the Westminster Dog Show was going to on in a few minutes. We share a special place in our hearts for the Boxer, my family does. We had several over the course of my childhood. A wonderful, gentle breed, the Boxer is perfect for a family with rough-and-tumble kids.

That lead-in should set the tone for my bias in this column. As a teen my Boxer was rough-and-tumble himself. Not known for being dainty, my best pal and ninety-five pound brute lived to either throw mom's shoes down the stairs or tackle me when I came trudging in from a long high school day filled with postulates and theorems, gerunds, and sodium silicate solution.

I miss those days. The snooty Eukanuba dog show matron might favor that prissy-looking Standard Poodle, but I would argue that her bias wasn't shaped by having a dog pushing the scale near one-hundred pounds climb into her lap every evening and drool all over her shirt. While my pal and I were rolling all over the living room floor and growling at each other, little Miss Thing and her girlfriend Fifi were probably having a girls' day out, getting a weird marshmallow-looking haircut with more ribbons than Scarlett O'Hara's favorite dress. I can't imagine why anyone would want to paint her dog's toenails when she could more easily throw a squeaky toy shaped like a raw steak across the living room floor and cheer on a dog who could burst a hole through the front line of the San Diego Chargers to retrieve it.

The Eukanuba judge aside, the Working Class judge of the Westminster show was very objective. I would love to have seen the Boxer win the class. As it turns out, the breed has won that class time and again. The great thing about major dogs shows is that Boxers are encouraged not to be as controlled as that stoic, accountant-seeming Corgi who has all the personality of furniture. That's one of the main reasons why I tune in to watch these things. When the judge calls the Boxer into the show arena, the dog knows it's his or her time to shine. I love the "let's go!" personality as he gallops out, paws batting the air right-right-left, as though he knows he is IT. The Boxer has more personality, more stubbornness, more intelligence, more fearlessness, and more love than any other breed I've ever seen in my scant fifty-two years. Judges care about the appearance of the dogs in the arena. With the Boxer, style points don't matter. That's something most Boxer owners would agree to; quickly wiping away that string of saliva from Bruno's jowls immediately before the judge whips briskly around to examine his nose-to-cranium ratio has saved many a Boxer from being eliminated from the Best in Group competition among a wide variety of dog shows. Boxer owners care mainly about who their companion is. They already know the dog is a champion in far more ways than any dog show could ever capture. They want people to know Bruno is the guy who sleeps on the sofa all morning when he's not supposed to. He's the one who keeps chasing squirrels away by barking at them through the closed patio door. He's the fellow who cuddles up to you and gives you a wet sloppy one within thirty seconds of getting a drink from the hall toilet.

A dog born with passion and love for life is the dog for me.

And, despite what the judges have to say, that dog is the Boxer.

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