Top dog something to woof about

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A German Shepherd named Rumor won the recent Westminster Kennel Club's Best In Show, wowing the judges by swinging upside from a trapeze half-naked while playing the banjo.

No wait -- I've got Rumor confused with a Lady Gaga concert.

What Rumor did was prance around the stage wagging her tail with her tongue hanging out.

Or was that ALSO Lady Gaga? I'm getting myself confused.

Anyway, I did a bit of research and discovered that the Westminster Dog Show started in 1877, which means it is now 1,240 years old -- in dog years.

Imagine the progress dogs have made since then. Back in the old days dogs mainly lolled around in the sun, yawning and scratching. (They were often mistaken for major league baseball players.)

Nowadays they lead active social lives and many have their own lines of jewelry and clothing. When a dog owner goes on vacation, the pooch gets housed in a Pet Motel that's spiffier than the ones I used to stay in when I covered NASCAR races around the South.

A dog's life is not a bad life, unless you're forced to be toted around in Paris Hilton's pocketbook.

Back to dog shows:

I used to cover dog shows during my fledging newspaper career. I got the assignment for one simple reason: nobody else wanted it.

Covering the Dog Show was considered only slightly lower than covering the State Legislature. At least when you covered the State Legislature you didn't come away infested with fleas. Usually!

I enjoyed covering the Dog Show because it was interesting and unusual. It was also easier to interview the Dog Show winners than to interview stick-and-ball athletes. The mutts, as a group, tended to be more articulate.

I once wrote a column poking a little tongue-in-cheek fun at dog shows and the handlers who trot them around the ring, tails wagging. (The dogs' I mean.)

I wondered how someone becomes a dog-show judge. Did that Supreme Court thing not work out?

Some canine devotees failed to see the humor and started howling. They went after me like a Doberman after a mailman. I finally had to whack them over the noggin with a rolled-up newspaper.

No, seriously, I responded to each critical, complaining email with a polite response: get a life.

The truth is, I like dogs and always have. We are temporarily between dogs right now, our old black Lab Buddy having gone to that big Kennel in the Sky last year after 15 years of faithfully lying on the porch.

Buddy was so gentle -- or lazy -- that he wouldn't harm a flea. And of course it would never have occurred to him to bark at a burglar. He'd probably hold the door for him. But since Buddy was pitch-black, it was possible that the burglar might trip over him in the dark.

Buddy wouldn't have done well in a dog show against all those fancy-pants pooches. But he was a good old dog, faithful and affectionate, and that's all that mattered.

If they had tried to force Buddy to walk down the red carpet, he would have left a spot on it. That's my kind of dog.

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Larry Woody
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