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Doggone it, I'm coming back as a canine

February 17, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

If there's such a thing as animal/human reincarnation - and I think it's the only way you can explain Dick Morris - I want to come back as a dog, specifically a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show dog.

If you've never seen Westminster, it's basically the world's greatest dogs led around a ring by the world's freakiest people in a grand competition to determine which group has the worst haircuts. For volume, they make an alpaca look like Telly Savalas. And that's just the handlers. No, I'm kidding, that's the dogs. You get to the Maltese and you don't know if you have a dog or a carwash brush with eyeballs. The dog people all look as if they walked into the salon and said "cut it any way you want, so long as it reminds me of Dorothy Hamill."

At least the dogs seem quasi-normal. In fact, the dogs leading the people would make more sense, but they don't do it that way.

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I wasn't around to see how the Greeks treated Apollo, but I'm guessing it was with the same sort of superstitious awe that's afforded these lucky hounds. In fact, the dogs may have it better, because as far as I know, the gods didn't get treats stuffed in their faces every 12 seconds.

Everything at this contest is so marvelously efficient, you have to wonder why they don't do the Miss Maryland pageant the same way.

The dogs seem keenly aware that they have it Very Good. They understand there's a gravy train here, and it's not in a can.

Dog 1: "I appreciate the high def TV in my kennel, but quite honestly, they didn't have to give me the mini bar."

Dog 2: "Shut up! Do you want to ruin it for everybody?"

In a way, though, the owners are more entertaining than the dogs. Where else but Westminster would you get an actual quote such as this? "If you look at all Rottweilers, they all look like Rottweilers. Every Neapolitan mastiff is like a fingerprint. All different. I like eclectic things."

Look, for eclectic you don't buy a dog, for eclectic you buy rooster saltshakers. But there they go, talking about a dog that "has a look that pierces the soul." Righto. Jake Biscuit has that look, but he usually reserves it for when you're eating a steak.

Besides, I've never even heard of a Neapolitan mastiff. What's that, a dog with red, white and brown stripes? Or is that what you get when you cross a French vanilla bulldog with a chocolate Lab?

The "Neo" didn't make the final cut, though, as the competition headed into a dramatic Tuesday night showdown to, according to the New York Times, "succeed Josh, a Newfoundland who retired to live with his girlfriends and work as a therapy dog." (I think the Times may have Josh confused with Ricky Williams, but I won't call them on it).

It's all very serious business, of course, and just a little frightening. These people sure know their dogs, but I get the idea that if you asked them the main ingredient in scrambled eggs they'd give you a look as blank as a refrigerator door.

Here's an actual exchange between a spectator and a breeder at Monday's show, as reported by the Boston Globe:

Spectator: "If we were neighbors, would you let your dog play with my dog?"

Breeder: "No."

OK, that went well. I guess borrowing the dog's hair brush then would be out. Speaking of which, here's another Actual Quote the Globe overheard at the show: "Hold still girl. We've just got the grease pencil and the hairspray left to do." I get the hairspray, but the grease pencil? Who's the dog supposed to look like, Phyllis Diller?

Well, maybe. Personally, I would only have one small requirement, to wit, the dog that wins has to look like a dog. That's it, a dog. No mops, no topiary, no shudda-been-a-cats, no equestrian noses, no gremlins, no gargoyles, no dog whose main attribute is "spirited," no bizarre breeds that came about because some bewhiskered Scotsman in a tweed shooting jacket got drunk in the 1820s and mated a terrier to a ferret - just a dog.

That's all. A plain ole porch-sittin' dog. As animals go, they are really not that complicated.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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