GONE TO THE DOGS No the president wasn’t caught inspecting an intern for illegal produce again. “Caught” being the operative word (did you know that “President Clinton of the USA” is an anagram for “To copulate he finds interns”?). No Sidney Blumenthal wasn’t captured on video clubbing baby seals in his bathtub (he has them imported). Yes, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd have once again written tag team columns to placate constituencies that demand cynical dudgeon over clear thinking. But that’s not what I’m talking about. No, a far more infuriating obstruction of Justice occurred. A bigger lie. A greater outrage. Once again, the triumvirate of bridge club old ladies, the gay Mafia, and British empty-nesters has fixed the Westminster Dog Show. This year a ridiculous piece of punt-lint won best in show. The Papillon, as the breed is called by people who aren’t scraping it off the bottom of their shoe, weighs less than a good bowling ball and has fewer uses. It’s ears explode from both sides of its head like dueling pony tails on a spoiled baby. It has that nervous look in its eye that says “I was bred for skeet shooting, but if I prance around maybe nobody will realize.”
The Best in Show prize given every year at Westminster is in fact a cover-up for the real crimes that occur earlier in the event. There is an unmitigated bias against real dogs. By real dogs I mean dogs that are proud to be dogs. Dogs that would assume they were under attack if their owner came at them with a hair dryer. Dogs that were bred to do things: track, hunt, kill, protect, fetch, for god’s sake, fetch. Real dog are not creatures that were bred for dress-up parties and for French men who want to compensate for the fact that they never got to wear ribboned-bouffant hairdos themselves.
Everyone knows that bloodhounds and bassett hounds are among the finest of man’s creations (Dogs were not made by God. Rather, he gave man the materials and said “show me what you can do.”) And yet, the bassett and bloodhounds have never won Best in Show. In fact, only three dogs have ever won Best in Show from the Hound Group since 1907. In 1983 and 1957 afghan hounds and in 1964 a whippet won best in show. As you may know, afghan hounds look remarkably like Joan Rivers but aren’t quite as masculine. whippets shake like they just got out of the shower into a cold room full of people and they’re embarrassed for being naked. Meanwhile, within the Hound Group, the afghans, whippets, and dachshunds regularly beat out the bassetts and bloods. This year a bloodhound that looked like the most comfortable unmade bed you’ve ever seen came in fourth to a saluki. Salukis are okay beasts from the Middle East (they are, in fact, the only dogs to be given a dispensation according to fundamentalist Islam. All other dogs are “unclean.”). They may in fact be the longest selectively bred dog in world. But their ancestors would be mortified to discover what has become of this noble Bedouin breed. Where once they hunted game in the hot desert, the only heat this creature has experienced of late is from a curling iron.
In the aptly named non-sporting group, the “dog” that word on the street had picked for best in show did indeed win his category. A giant poodle named “That’s My Boy” won handily. One can only presume that they had to name him “That’s My Boy” because there would be no way to tell otherwise. This thing looked like what you’d expect a male figure skater might look like after ten years in prison. It was all-white with this unbelievable frizzy head of…fur? It’s back third was shaved to it’s gray skin except for the pom-poms of white fluff on its ankles and tail. It’s snout was shaved gray so you could see its black lips pursed downward in a look of French contempt. If there were even a single wolf gene left in this creature, the moment it looked in a mirror it would leap upon his owner and tear his throat out. Then he would beg the nearest police officer to shoot him. A bulldog that was straight out of the dogs-playing-poker painting didn’t even make the final four.
I could go on. Year after year, the best breeds are beaten by ridiculous dogs that have been bred solely for showing. Bloodhounds are bred to keep their eyes and nose to the ground, as are bassetts. But the dogs that win are dogs that are bred to keep their eyes up. Even some great breeds, like Labs and Golden Retrievers, have some of their pure doggy goodness bred out of them in exchange for shinier coats and daintier body structures. Look, I know that all dogs go to heaven but that doesn’t mean that some shouldn’t be forced to use the back entrance. The Westminster Kennel Club, and the show-dog industry generally, favors the weak over the powerful, the meek over the proud, and the primped over the floppy. This may be the more noble way to judge people, but dogs are better than us and we shouldn’t try to change that.
THE REPREHENSIBLE REVEREND Remember when Bill Clinton denounced Sista Souljah and humiliated Jesse Jackson in the process? Don’t expect such “bravery” again, now that Clinton owes Jackson for saving his presidency. But someone should denounce Jackson for being the worst kind of demagogue. Here’s what he said yesterday about the Governor of New York, “Pataki is trying what Wallace tried, what Faubus tried, what Wilson tried, and they all failed,” Jackson observed during his testimony on New York’s budget. Pataki wants to spend too much on prisons and not enough on schools says Jackson. “Whether you’re blocking school doors in Alabama and Arkansas or simply locking kids out of closed school doors in New York is not the wave of the American future,” sayeth the Reverend. This moral equivalence between an honest debate over budget priorities and blocking black children from school house doors is supposed to be the kind of thing New Democrats are supposed to fight. Don’t expect that fight any time soon.