Westminster Thoughts About The Dog Show
Viewing TV coverage of the Westminster Dog Show a couple of nights ago, I couldn't help thinking how great it was that we are such a dog-loving nation. As each individual dog paraded around the ring at Madison Square Garden, the cheers of its supporters seemed to vitalize the dog's eagerness to show at its best. Inspiring the spirit of competition and the building excitement was itself inspiring, all these near-perfect dogs in a single venue evidenced a dog lovers dream come true.
Impartial judges sought to find the dogs closest to their breed's standard; while cheering fanciers sought primarilly to show their partiality to their favorite breed and thereby possibly influence the judging outcome. It's been said that stalwart judges tune out crowd reaction and hew to the officially prescribed critical standards. Maybe so, but methinks human nature must, at least, sometimes creep in and color their rulings.
Enjoyable though the annual Westminster event is for so many people, and I have no wish to toss any cold water, it leaves room for some negative aspects. A bit of snob appeal exists when considering the participation of only purebred dogs. Might it not be a good idea to initiate a mixed breeds category into the show? Obviously, such dogs could not be judged by a breed standard, since none exists. But some form of judgement could be devised to separate entries, perhaps by size, coat, color. Maybe even an audience applause and cheering meter could decide placements. Just an idea tossed into the hopper.
Especially pleasing were the Pedigree commercials on behalf of, and advocating adoption of, shelter dogs. Mixed breeds predominate at shelters across the country and badly need to find loving homes. There are also many purebreds turned in to shelters that need new loving homes. Additionally, purebreds have the added benefit of their own organizations to which interested adopters may apply.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of the, otherwise, exciting Westminster Dog Show, is its influence on breed popularity. Puppy mill breeders immediately latch onto the opportunity to mass produce puppies of the popular winner breeds that will appeal to trendy buyers. Even legitimate, reputable breeders can sometimes succomb to the lure of increased sales. And over-popularity too often has resulted in the ruination of a breed through careless over breeding, as well as the serious diluting of quality in some breeds.
All in all, encouragement of a few serious thoughts about Westminster by sincere dog lovers, should ultimately evaluate its real worth to
the canine community.
A Long Time In Coming
The Best In Show winner a few night ago was an Irish wolfhound, hardly a hugely popular breed. In fact the occasion marked the first time the breed had ever won the title in Westminster's long and colorful history. How refreshing that a judge ignored the popularity level of the breed, and based his decision on the standard alone. Kudos to judge, dog and handler!