Purebreds take Westminster; mutts, the couch

Published 12:45 am Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lovers of dogs the nation over will begin their quest to pick the best of the best starting Sunday night as the longest running dog show returns to Madison Square Garden in New York.

The champions-only event is limited to 2,000 dogs. Televised coverage of the event begins on Monday on USA Network at 7 p.m. It also will be shown on CNBC Monday night and the Best in Show will be awarded on Tuesday night. The final showing begins at 7 p.m.

Six new breeds were added to this year’s competition, but sadly missing from the “champions” grouping is the mutt category. Mutts make the best canine companions — there is no doubt about that. They might not contain the pedigree or the attitude of the “purebreds” that will be on display this weekend, but one must ask what makes a great canine?

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Is it the fact that it eats from fancy place settings, has perfectly shiny hair and prances gracefully across a carpeted ring? Or is it an afternoon lick soon after the car eases down the driveway?

Is the mark of a good dog the awards it wins on the mantel or the awards it leaves outside in the grass after so many hours stuck in the house? Surely some of these Westminster dogs have golden bathrooms and feathered toilet paper. Mutts need none of that.

Westminsters likely eat caviar draped over imported gourmet puppy chow, enough to send Trump to the poor house. But mutts will eat anything — from furniture to wood shavings to a big old bowl of Alpo.

Westminsters will draw attention to themselves with noses raised skyward, while mutts will draw attention to themselves with wagging tails that show they’re just happy to be alive.

Some are rescues, others just born on the wrong side of the tracks. They are worthy of award shows as well. The Mutties will honor the limpers and the lickers, the plump and the short. The Mutties will look for dogs that contain abnormalities in physical appearance and whose family tree has too many branches to count.

Yes, Westminsters will impress with the fancy hair and the ribbons, but the mutts — oh, those mutts — are real ones needing to be honored.

So find a mutt and honor it. Sit down with your mutt and make fun of the Westminsters and all their privilege.

One day, the Mutties will come to a garden near you — even if Madison Square is booked.

Sean P. Murphy is web editor. He can be reached at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com