Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Not enough ribbons"

These words were spoken by the commentators several times over the two nights of The Westminster Dog Show. I so enjoy being in the company, if only on tv, of people who really, really love dogs. At Westminster each breed is celebrated for being exactly what it is supposed to be, what it is bred for. "Responsible breeders are the good guys." Over and over again those same commentators talked about "educating yourselves and doing your homework," reading a book, going online, visiting a breeder or going to a dog show before getting a dog. We should take our time because we will have this dog for ten or twelve or fifteen years.

No matter how we bring up our dogs, their "instinct is always going to be there." When people don't take the time to find out about a breed, they may end up with a breed with instincts that don't fit into their lifestyles. For example when a dog whose instinct it is to protect, ends up biting someone, the dog is often put down or given to a shelter. And as hard as it was for me to watch, Pedigree did great ads about dogs ending up in those shelters. For every dollar we give, they will match it, and the last I heard they had raised half a million dollars to help find homes for these abandoned dogs.

The pages between my fingers are the ones I filled with notes and quotes about dogs. The dogs I look for are the ones described as 'excellent family pets, gentle giants, gentle companions, trustworthy, sweet, affectionate, nothing more loving, and inherent good nature.' I don't want a guard dog; I want a dog that loves all people, not just me. Our Sadie loves four people: Tom and I and our kids. She is wary of anyone else, and has nipped a couple people in the past. So, when people come, she and Ben go into a little room for the duration of the visit. Sad, but safe. And though we love her tremendously, hers is not a trait we look for in a dog. We are at a stage of life now where grandchildren might be in our future, and we want a dog that is, as Tom says, "bomb proof." One that we can completely trust with little ones when they come to visit. As much as I adore Beagles, and the winner, Uno,

I don't think it is the dog for us. We had a dog once who was part Beagle, and that boy spent most of his life howling in our woods. And now that my daughter has her Pug, I get to enjoy a little dog. I do love a lot of breeds, but the following are the top contenders to be the next dog(s) at Windy Poplars Farm.

Because I love the drawings, I'm going to make my list with pictures as I did last year.

Basset Hound


Collie (Smooth)

English Setter

English Springer Spaniel

Golden Retriever

Great Dane

Irish Wolfhound





  1. My dog-loving friend, do you have a sense of humor about it? Did you see Best in Show Christopher Guest's hilarious send-up movie of the people who take dog shows and their pets so so seriously?

    That being said, I love watching dog shows on tv too, and was very horrified at the Frontline PBS special about man's expectations of the different breeds.

    P.S. I take you on, or at least I tackle your cornbread, in my food blog today!

  2. I am a dog lover too. I also have a Sadie. I love to read and have found many new titles to check out.

  3. What a great post. I agree with what you said about the show. It was fantastic and well done. I'm forcing myself to look at short hair dogs though I was quite struck by the tibetan mastiff. That was a lot of dog!! Our golden died of cancer last Friday and I'm not sure if we will get another golden. The hair issue for us in an area of woods and ticks and briers etc was difficult. She was very loving however and was a very good watch dog and protective.
    I like the temperament of our pointer/hound mix but he is a runner. I also liked the looks of the Swiss Mountain Dog but would have to look closer and as I'm getting older do we really want a larger dog.
    No second dog for now though.

  4. We had a golden retriever. She was the most gentle dog I've ever known. I was scared of dogs as a child and only got a dog when our son was 5 as I didn't want him to be scared too. She cured me and was just perfect with children. The only draw back of course is the hair, it got just everywhere. When she was 5 we got another dog - a cross border collie - yet more hair, but I really loved those dogs!

  5. We had a golden retriever when our girls were little. That dog loved everybody and was the best companion for our children and their friends. When she had to be put to sleep (polycystic kidney disease), I had to make the decision. That was one of the few times I have seen my husband weep. Our next was an Airedale Terrior--extremely protective and alert. And VERY HIGH ENERGY. I never had to fear when I was out walking with him at my side. He also was a Sadie. But what a great dog. Right now we are dogless, life is free and simple. There is also something missing. Judy

  6. I thought that Uno was a beautiful Beagle but I wouldn't have one if you gave it to me. My niece has one and it howls and runs like crazy. It can't help itsself I know but I wouldn't want to deal with it.

    I had a Labrador Retriever when my kids were at home. He was the best dog I ever had. So sociable but knew when to step in and protect. Labs do need lots of exercise to keep them happy and healthy though.

    We have a WHite German Shepherd now. Her name is Luna. I wouldn't suggest such a dog because you would have to change your sweeper bag twice per week. :/ They are also very protective.

  7. Well, our Miss Annie (part-Collie, part-German Shepherd) has turned out to be THE BEST dog ever. She is such a sweetheart, full of love and affection for both of us and anyone who comes to visit. She loves to walk on her leash, romp in the yard, stay home alone, barks only when tempted by Rod's leftover fried eggs and toast, and never, ever jumps on people. I can't think of a single negative thing to say about this gentle dog. We are truly blessed!

  8. Great dogs in the list there and much common sense in the post.

  9. Have you ever seen the coffee table book "Living with Dogs?" It features a Springer Spaniel on the cover and is about favorite things: books, homes, and dogs. I grew up with Springer Spaniels (my parents still keep them) and they are wonderful with children but my lord, are they ever obnoxious. Sweet character though. I myself have a Special Blend (we found her in Georgia years ago) and a Great Pyrenees-talk about hair, hair everywhere but what good dogs they are!

  10. Thank you all so much for sharing your own dog stories. I loved reading them. April, I'm getting the book! Thanks.


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