Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Second Monday and Tuesday in February

Some may look forward to the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, or the Grammys as their favorite television viewing of the year, but for me that special occasion happens on the second Monday and Tuesday in February, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. It is an annual event in my life and here on the blog. Other than the time we didn't have satellite tv, I have written about it every year. It does, in fact, have its own section under 'Letter Topics,' and you may click there to read the dog-related ramblings from years past.

As you know, I really love dogs, and one of my personal favorite postings was a litany of all the dogs who have shared our lives since 1973. I take the choosing of a dog very seriously, and so I sit down each year with paper and pen in hand, jotting down descriptions that appeal to me. A dog in the show may be adorable, but unless I hear such phrases as 'unsurpassed family dog' or 'gives visitors cheerful welcome' or 'loves children' then I will continue to admire them on television only. As I've noted maybe too often here on the blog, our Sadie doesn't like anyone but Tom and I, Margaret, and Michael. If, for example, Matt is at the door with Margaret, you can see the extreme internal conflict Sadie goes through. She loves Margaret more than life itself, but Matt is a stranger and a danger from whom she must protect Margaret. So, into the laundry room she goes whenever anyone stops by who isn't part of the family. Luckily, she doesn't mind, and is quiet and well-behaved the whole time they are here. It's like she knows we are protecting her from herself.

We love her; that's all there is to it. And loving anyone, human or animal, means that you accept them with all their faults. And other than that one 'little' problem, there are no faults. In fact, she is probably the most loyal dog we've ever had, and it is sort of flattering to be loved above all others on the earth, but our choice would be a dog that loved everyone, like our Oreo. When the UPS man came, he would get right in the truck, and would have happily gone along to all the daily stops. Oreo would occasionally get away, and our friend Eddie would see him as he drove by. He'd open his truck door, and in would hop that sweet dog, whom our friend always referred to as 'my boy Oreo.'

So, without further ado, here are my choices from this year's dog show, with those wonderful American Kennel Club drawings.

Though last year I featured the Leonberger, and though I am still smitten with its looks, I read it can be rather short-lived and prone to some diseases so I think I will forego this breed. Some of the large breeds we are fond of also have shortish life spans, and frankly, though there are no guarantees, I'd like a dog that might live longer than 7-9 years. We lost two after seven years, and our dog-loving hearts broke.

First and foremost is the Smooth Collie. I've noted before that we didn't have enough years with our beloved MacIntosh; and we want the Smooth over the Rough for ease of grooming.

The Icelandic Sheepdog - the 'gives visitors a cheerful welcome' and '15 years is not an uncommon life span' dog

The English Setter - the 'unsurpassed family dog'

The Flat Coated Retriever

The Golden Retriever

The Labrador Retriever

All of these dogs would fit in just great at Windy Poplars Farm. Wouldn't it be fun to have six puppies, one of each breed?!

So there you have it. Another year, another list from the best two television nights of my year. I can't close without taking note of this year's winner, an adorable Pekingese named Malachy. Oh, the way he walked made me smile with delight, and that dear little face!

And I just loved this Purina commercial.

Addendum February 18.
I just read this:
If you are unprepared to potentially lose a dog at a young age (the average lifespan of the FCR is 7 years), then the Flat Coated Retriever is probably not the breed for you.

I can't get a dog with that expectation after having lost both MacIntosh and Ben at the age of seven. So, I am eliminating this potentially wonderful breed from my list. That Icelandic Sheepdog is looking better and better.

Addendum February 29.
After a mention in The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, which I finished today, I looked up the Samoyed, and wondered why the breed wasn't on my list. 'Bright, alert, gentle.' I'm adding this one. Look at that smile!

Addendum May 27.
Last evening I met a new-to-me breed. Our friend Billy has an Irish Terrier named Murphy, and for me it was love at first sight. He was cheerful and interested in us, but clearly loved his Bill. He has an impish, almost comical quality that was so appealing. I've been doing a lot of reading and now the Irish Terrier is high on my list.


  1. So disappointed you didn't pick my all-time favorite the German Shepherd Dog. I've been fortunate to have had seven of these wonderful animals in my life and without exception they are the "king of Dog Kingdom" in my opinion. You might even say I'm a dog snob when it comes to all other breeds, the German being so far above the others. So you can imagine my outrage that the "dust mop" was judged the Best On Show.

  2. I was rooting for the GS. It's a beautiful dog but I don't think it is the one for our particular life. But I do admire them terrifically. You know the guy at the beginning said he thought it might be a small dog this year. I feel badly that the herding dogs as a group hardly ever win. There's a list here:

    The GS was the last herding dog to win and that was 1987. Not right. And the fact that the most popular dog is the Labrador Retriever and they never win, as the Goldens don't. The last Collie to win was in 1929! Come on!

  3. Edward sat right in front of the television all evening, with occasional forays behind it to see if there were perhaps more dogs back there. It's without a doubt his favourite program of the year. Apple, couldn't care less. She slept underneath the piano the entire time.

    We were rooting for the Irish Setter or the Wire-Haired Dachshund this year. Oh, and there was a Leonberger in Apple's puppy class. Amazing dog! He grew ten fold in six weeks!!

  4. I used to have a GS and he was such a wonderful companion. I would also really love to have a Golden Retriever. I'm definitely a 'Big Dog' person. So sad that I cant have dogs where I live now. I'd really love my son to grow up with dogs around like I did. I think it makes such a difference, don't you?

  5. Dear Nan,
    Sounds like you have a great protection in that dog of yours!
    I love the drawings of these dogs.
    My in-laws in England have had these two dogs: Westie and Border Collie. Both of these dogs were so intelligent, but that little Westie, named Barney was my favorite. Like a little old man in a dog suit...

  6. I heard that the winner retired after the show. I always wonder why the most popular dogs don't ever win the show. It is fun to see all the dogs being judged.

    I am a little taken aback by how they are introducing new dog breeds almost every year too. For reasons I can't quite put my finger on I think it is creepy that people are "making" new breeds.

  7. I was raised with the most wonderful Doberman. He came from a long line of show dogs, was protective but never agressive, and my best friend growing up.

    Our son has just adopted one, and happily, he seems to have a similar personality.

    I also love the retrievers. Our last couple of dogs, mutts, have found us, and have settled in beautifully.

    Sadly I can't get the show in Canada, without a special pay channel which we don't get.

    Have a wonderful rest of the week,

  8. Nan, I agree about the Herding Dogs and the Lab and Golden, just not right.
    By-the-way, I just finished reading A Place to Die and am going to leave you a comment on that post. Thank you so much for your recommendation.

  9. I LOVE the WKC Dog Show and watch it every year. My favorite breeds, in no particular order, are the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and the English Springer Spaniel. I'd be happy with any one of these dogs, but alas, not right now. But a dog is definitely in my retirement picture!

  10. Pamela, Sadie lifted her head just once when a dog barked. I do love it when the occasional dog does bark in front of the judges. David Frei said they aren't marked off for it.

    CHE, I'm not sure that I could live without a dog in my life. Could you move? :<)

    Kay, the Westie is adorable. That's the breed Hamish Macbeth had in the television series.

    Lisa, most of the breeds introduced are not 'created' but are older breeds that are just being recognized. More here, with pictures!

    Niki, it's always nice to hear about a dog like a Dobie being such a good friend. Thanks.

    Jill, David Frei talks about how the particular dog meets the standard, and that's what makes a winner. I do find it fascinating. I learn more each year.

    Jill C. - that will make retirement all the sweeter!!

  11. Our Ruth watched, and sometimes walked up close to the television screen. Jewel slept through the 2 night of the WKC show, with her head on my lap. (As usual, they tied for Best on Couch.)

    In Best of Show we cheered on the Dalmation but our second favourite was the Irish Setter.

    We much prefer mixed breeds to purebreds, as long as they are black & white and have Border collie heritage.

  12. I'll be forwarding this post to my daughter, who loves dogs. So do I! They are such wonderful buddies. We have a Sheltie named Liam, and my daughter and I think it's grossly unfair the way herding dogs are ignored. What the heck!

  13. Nice dog choices Nan :0)
    Love the video

  14. Love dogs, too.....My little dog Bo is ten years old now, but I am hoping he will be with us many many more years......Such a part of the family.

    I liked your comment on my blog and wanted to recommend Listening Valley, one of my favorite DES books, not a sequel but a follow on to Celia's House though not immediately apparent........

  15. Nan, as another dog for you to consider, allow me to suggest ... a beagle! Remember best-in-show Uno from a few years ago? We've owned several beagles and these cheery, friendly, cosy little dogs make wonderful pets. The smaller 13" ones, especially spayed females, are very loyal and affectionate, and love being where you are. Their only fault is that they love to share the furniture with you! They do require a certain amount of exercise, and you have to watch their diet so they don't put on weight (like us, beagles like to eat) but if you have a fenced yard and like to walk yourself, they make the perfect pets.

  16. I too am a dog lover. I did not watch the dog show though. We always had small breeds, Miniature schnauzers for years. Katy Did was my favorite. Then we got a Lab and that was it. We had 3 at one time. Harley Jo (chocolate) died at 9 from a tumor on her liver. We still have Stella Blue (chocolate) and her daughter Wendy the Wonderdog (black). Stella is 13 1/2! Bad arthritis and congestive heart but such a tough old girl. She is english. Wendy is 11 and doing great. Gets pinched nerves in the shoulder often. Disk issues the vet thinks. I can't imagine not having a dog. I had a GS once and he went everywhere with me but they are a one person dog and he hated my husband and didn't want anyone near me. Oh my I'm sorry I'm rambling on...

  17. I really like the Smooth Collie. And what an awesome commercial! :)

  18. My dogs are telling me their lunchtime biscuits are overdue, but I'll just quickly vote for Labradors (of course) as they are such fine, friendly noble creatures.
    I love the story I heard about the Queen, and which I've no reason to doubt, namely that last thing at night she always settles her dogs in their beds, getting down or her hands and knees, even in all her finery and jewels after the likes of a state banquet!

  19. My two favourite breeds are Scottish terriers and lurchers. I like other breeds too but these are the ones I would choose - apart from the first dog we had - a Scottish terrier called Brienbry MacIntosh ( who had a long and illustrious pedigree full of Crufts champions!)all our dogs have chosen us because they've been rescues:) Mac was a great dog, friendly, good with children and very loyal. You will notice that the word obedient doesn't appear though - he quite defintely had a mind of his own:)

  20. Margaret, I love 'best on couch.' :<) I've had many mixed breeds, and loved them all.

    Laurie, I was interested to learn that Shelties are not miniature Collies but a whole separate breed. Love the name, Liam!

    Val, the video brings tears to my eyes.

    Kristi, thanks for the LV recommendation. I must read more DES this year.

    Canadian Chickadee, we are very fond of Beagles, and in fact our Oreo was part Beagle. He followed his nose and spent many nights howling in the woods. :<)

    Peggy Ann, not rambling at all! I love hearing about people's dogs. I've often thought it would be fun to have all three color Labs at the same time. :<) Love your dogs' names. The commentators talked quite a bit about the fun names at this year's show.

    Les, we both so loved that ad.

    Cornflower, it almost makes me cry to think of the Queen doing that. Such tenderness.

    Rowan, I'm fond of both your choices. Obedience has never been a strong trait with any of our dogs. :<) Our late Collie was MacIntosh - named after the PG Wodehouse dog character.

  21. "Best on couch..." That's a wonderful category!

    I'm quite enamored with my two shih tzu's as a breed - they are smart, loyal, healthy, and well behaved. They each have a couple of little quirks, but we overlook them:)

    However, I love dogs in general, and can't conceive of life without one (or two) around on the couch.

    1. They sound adorable! And that's me, too. I love dogs 'in general!'

  22. I love watching the show two. You have a great list of dog choices. I understand about the dog lover heartbreak when one of your family members pass away. The Pekingese was adorable!! That commercial made me teary!! I will remember that when Daisy (my new pup) drives me crazy!!

    1. I love the name Daisy. That's our donkey's name, though we didn't name her.

  23. The saying "the bigger the dog, the shorter the life" seems rather true. Mixed breeds seem to live longer too. And with so many dogs waiting to be rescued from kennels... i can't ever imagine buying a dog for its breed and so-said qualities. I had once a marvellous mixed-breed (10 kilos), i called her Biscuits Assortis (i'm french)and she lived 20 years, clear and sound till her last days.

    1. Very sad, but it does seem to be true. My mixed breeds and purebreds have lived about the same amount of years. 20 years is amazing.


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