BY LARRY WOODY
I came across a newspaper item the other day about the American Kennel Club's "Good Citizen Program," and since there was nothing better to read (and we wonder why newspapers are dying?) I checked it out.
The program is reserved for AKC-certified dogs -- country-club canines -- which leaves out my old Lab, Buddy.
Buddy could pass for a pure-bred Labrador Retriever except for a white spot on his chest. That means Buddy's a gene or two shy of a Lab. Apparently one of my dog's parents had been catting around.
Even if Buddy were pure-bred and had the papers to prove it, I don't think he would qualify for Good Citizen status. One of the requirements is "obedience," and following orders has never been one of Buddy's strong points.
He won't come when he's called, except at suppertime.
If he's ordered to get off the sofa, he just yawns and keeps watching Animal Planet on TV.
We can't get him to sit up, roll over or shake hands.
If we sent Buddy to Obedience School he'd probably be kicked out the first day for smoking in the restroom.
That being said, I think the American Kennel Club's snooty mutts are over-rated. Many years ago, one of my newspaper assignments was covering the annual AKC Dog Show at Municipal Auditorium.
I got the job because -- like covering bowling tournaments, sailboat regattas and Vanderbilt football -- nobody else wanted it.
I found the Dog Show interesting. Or at least different.
The people who travel the country showing their Show Dogs are themselves unique breeds. They smell like Alpo and cedar shavings.
The owners spend hours grooming their doggie dandies, blow-drying their fur and trimming their toenails. Then, tails wagging (the dogs' not the owners') they prance around the ring. It's called the mutt-strut.
The judges of dog shows are equally interesting. When they were in college they probably dreamed of a Supreme Court appointment or at least a Federal Judgeship but -- as things so often happen in life -- they had to settle for judging dog shows.
It's not an easy gig, jogging around a show ring trying to decide between the Pomeranian and the poodle or the schnauzer and the shih tzu -- and being very careful when they say "shih tzu."
The judges check each dog by hand, prodding here and squeezing there, inspecting areas in which dogs normally are not prodded and squeezed.
The Best of Breeds are selected, and each of those advance to the Best of Show finals. The winner is declared top dog.
Somehow, the fancy show dogs don't look happy. They look as pouty as supermodels.
I'll bet they would trade in all the attention, trophies and ribbons for a good roll in the dirt or a chance to chase a groundhog.
It's kinda sad, hounding a dog out of its natural state.
Perhaps the AKC should add another category for regular blue-collar mutts: Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dogs.
I might enter Buddy, if I can get him off the sofa.