Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Release the hounds!

March brings us March Madness.
October is the World Series.
February is the Westminster Dog Show.

We watch the WDS, not for the pure-bred dogs and crazy poodle haircuts, but for the geography and history lessons taught for each bred shown.
Hound dogs include sight hounds and scent hounds. You can easily tell which category a hound fits into: a sight hound is taller so they can see over obstacles and terrain; scent hounds are low to the ground so they can smell their way along the terrain.  But then there is the otter hound. It is a scent hound, seeking the smell in water. They have webbed feet, oily coats, and always wet beards. No one would assume they fit in with beagles or afghan hounds.

E. and I love the herding dogs. My first dog was an Australian Shepherd, and a rescue dog. Through her, I learned the special talents and hang-ups of herding dogs.She loved to herd me around the house. Her energy level was HIGH - and she loved stalking sheep.

Then came Ben - another aussie mix, another rescue. He loved herding, too - especially small children. No playground was 'unsorted' while he was around. Children would scream when Ben approached the playground - half the children screamed in joy of the presence of Ben, half in fear of a big dog chasing any 'uncollected' child back to the herd. He would befriend all the children, earning hugs, kisses and uneaten school lunches. Ben went on to become a therapy dog. He loved his work.

Tonight we will be waiting for the Sporting Group. Why? We have two crazy, rescued dogs who are represented in the sporting group. Sophie, our gordon setter (is she?) fits the  description for her breed: "as a high energy, intelligent breed, they need plenty of physical and mental exercise and human contact to maintain peak condition. Gordons are alert, lively and loyal dogs, devoted to family. They are gentle with children and tend to show strong protective instincts toward "their" kids." 

Well, it all sounds like Sophie until you get to this sentence: " They tolerate attention from people they do not know rather than seeking such attention. "  PLEASE! Sophie demands attention... we mere humans are her attention giving slaves.
"Sophie the brat, Gordon Setter type, #4"

Shado is a flat coated retreiver. Again, he is a rescue dog - his previous owner said he tugged too much.
"He counts among his ancestor's two now extinct American breeds, the St Johns Labrador and Newfoundland." Really? I would have guessed he was part arm sled pulling dog.
" A dog that needs a job..." - no kidding. Anyone have a sled that needs pulling?
"Shado Magoo, Flat Coated Retriever #2"

E. and I do not have pedigree (or should I say, lack of pedigree) issues with our dogs. We have never wanted a 'fashion accessory'. Our guys are unique, annoying at times, busy expending energy, and bundles of love. We would probably never attend a dog show. The pampered, moussed, styled dogs aren't our style. But learning the breeds, their use and their geography, is a fun day in school.
The Westminster Dog Show ends tonight (Tuesday night). We watch it on USA network - the sporting group 'runs' tonight before 'Best in Show' is judged.
Sophie will be watching on one side of the couch, Shado on the other side. E. and I, the humans, will be scratching their ears and cheering on their breeds.


Sandra said...

when i saw the first photo i started to sing "who let the dogs out". our dogs have zero pedicgree and all of ours have been "mixed breed" at the vet, this means who knows, we sure don't. but baby is a scent hound, her nose is incredible and she does have razor back hound in her, jake shows a lot of boxer mix. i love them all, pedigree or not and yours are beautiful

Brenda's Arizona said...

Sandra, I can see the boxer in your photos of Jake, but your Baby dog certainly looks 'unknown'! In truth, I thought she was a 'sun' dog - sunbathing all the time!

Kathy said...

Oh, I would love to go to a dog show! The people and the animals would be so much fun. One of my all-time favorite movies is "Best in Show," sort of a parody of Westminster. It's one of the few movies in my liftime I have elected to see more than once. Rent it if you haven't seen it! You'll love it.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Kathy, that movie cracks me up, too. Do you think that is the way it really is??

Banjo52 said...

I like the way you offer reasons to watch the show, yet say politely that fussy breeds and grooming are not for you. I believe you, and I like your position.
When I was younger and a lot dumber, I entered my English Bulldog pup, the first dog of my so-called adulthood, in a summer show in Memphis. She and the other bulldogs were hacking and gasping; all seemed on the verge of heat stroke (which killed my father's bulldog at two, when I was in high school). No one offered a tip or show of concern about easing the bulldogs' discomfort.

That was it for me on shows. But as long as the animals aren't hurt, I don't feel preachy against shows. As you say, they are educational. You see some beautiful animals and some laughably uppity-do-dah humans.

By the way, my bulldog (Sophie!!) came in second. Out of two.

If memory serves, "Best of Show" was my favorite of the excellent movies by that team. But "Oh Brother" sure had its moments!

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I used to love to go to dog shows. Now, seeing what has been done to different breeds, due to fanatical breeding, I avoid them. I'd always rather see a dog doing what if was bred for; whether it's working or belly scrathces a healthy, happy dog does my sould good!

LOVE LOVE LOVE the first picture!

altadenahiker said...

Waiting for Guffman rules!

I'd say Sophie is gordon setterish. But those weren't the only shoes outside her mama's teepee.

I get a kick out of the judges.

Brenda's Arizona said...

AH, I agree on all counts.
Re: Sophie - her mom found more than ticks in that there woodpile, ya know?

Snapper II said...

I can identify with your dogs I have no pedigree either he he he he he
I,ve been called so many unkind things it would be a pleasure to be called a Mutt.

Pat Tillett said...

I love your dogs! Personality plus!