I love my breed of dog, the Siberian Husky, for my own reasons and I
respect anyone else's choice in dog, whether pedigreed, mixed or mutt.
With the Westminster Kennel Show coming up on Feb. 14th and 15th, I
thought it proper to address a few changes in this year's contest.
Yes, I'm one of those people who watch the show, or at least some
parts of it. I don't know how I made it up to this point in my life
without a DVR, but I think it is second only to the toothbrush as far
as greatest inventions go.
I first started watching dog shows when I was a kid. My stepfather
raised several award-winning Pointers and Setters. He had a room
plastered with photos of the dogs, his horses and, of course, the
I used to get strange looks from my fellow sailors in the U.S. Navy,
when they walked into the crew's lounge and I was sitting by myself
watching dog shows--their ignorance, not mine.
I enjoy watching the way groomers go out of their way to primp up
their pooches, and all the dog cares about is playing; back stage
stuff is more interesting than the actual performances.
Who's to say that a pedigreed poodle runs routines better than a Heinz
57 mutt? This is all play to the dogs; they don't care about the
social status involved. But, as a TV watcher, I'm hooked.
Back to the point: Six new breeds are introduced to the show this
year. I don't have the sensibilities of the Westminister judges, but
I've made it a point to follow the show and read up on the
This is the Miss America contest for dogs, and I'm an unabashed fan.
So let me give you a little preview on the new entries this year:
1.) First, we have the Boykin Spaniel in the sporting group. The breed
was developed in South Carolina and is nicknamed "the little dog that
doesn't rock the boat."In 1985, Gov. Richard Riley signed an act
making the Boykin Spaniel South Carolina's official state dog.
2.) Next is the Bluetick Coonhound in the hunting group. According to
the AKC website, the dog "should be a free tonguer on trail with a
medium bawl or bugle voice." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but
it sounds intriguing. In America, they have always been called English
Coonhounds. I had one when I was a kid and his name was Ulysses, but
my stepfather kept calling him "Useless," which ticked me off.
3.) The Redbone Coonhound is being added to the hound group. Back
before the Civil War, hunters tried to breed a hound that could
perform in the woods and be pleasant to look at, and isn't that
odd--personal opinion. A solid red coat along with it's friendly
personality sets the Redbone Coonhound apart from other breeds.
4.) The Cane Corso is in the working group. This dog is an Italian
breed, with its primary function as a livestock herder and hunting
dog. The Cane Corso is one of the smartest and friendliest breeds with
family and friends. The breed was almost extinct in Italy in the early
1970s, but recovered nicely. The Cane Corso was first brought to the
United States in 1988.
5.) The Leonberger also will show in the working group. The males are
larger than the females and carry a lion-like mane. They originated in
Germany as a farm dog and despite their size, they are quite agile.
Today the Leonberger is known as a family dog with varying abilities,
6.) Finally, there is my favorite, the Icelandic Sheepdog, in the
herding group. The breed dates to the Vikings. The coat is thick, key
to its survival in the harsh Icelandic countryside. It reminds me of
my Huskies, with its fanned tail and naturally pointed ears. The
sheepdogs are among the most intelligent dogs, according to some
studies and extremely friendly, especially with children.
The Westminster show will air Monday, Feb. 14th, for the following
categories: Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups. Show time is
8-9 p.m., live on USA Network, and from 9-11 p.m., on CNBC.
On Tuesday, Feb. 15th, the Sporting, Working and Terrier groups take
the ring, plus the Best In Show is determined. Show time is from 8-11
p.m., live, on USA. Breed judging highlight videos are available
throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday on the Westminster Kennel
Club website. These highlights will be available after the show, as
Pet Tip of The Week
When I was in college, we had a teacher in my communication class tell
us to bring in something that meant something to us and give a speech
on the item. The one that had the greatest impact was a guy who
brought in photos of his German Shepherd. Everybody smiled at the cute
photos, and all the girls were going "aawww." Then he reached under
the desk and pulled out a container with his dog's heart, riddled with
heartworms. I was mortified, as he explained what they were and how
they murdered his best friend. Very dramatic stuff that put an
impression in my head I won't get out. The guy went on to Vet school.
Heatworm prevention today is as easy as giving your pet a chewable
pill. Especially in Florida, it's essential that dogs get the
protection they need.
Read more columns.
Largo Pet Friendly Parks and Places:
- ,12615 102nd Ave. N
- Northeast Park and Paw Place, 4630 East Bay Dr.
- Underneath Belleaire Beach causeway on West Bay Drive is known to locals as an unofficial dog beach.
- , 101 Central Park Drive
- Eagle Lake Park, 1800 Keene Rd.
- , 12000 Ulmerton Rd.
- , 1100 8th Ave. S.W.