The Great American Mutt Show, held at SeaGate Convention Centre last month, certainly was a great idea. The canine world needs a competition for mixed breeds. Many people believe that the Heinz 57 variety makes excellent pets, even better than those with long and impressive bloodlines.
Think of it this way. Mutts have no particular expectations to live up to like the dogs that are a specific breed. Herding dogs are expected to herd even though they may live in a New York high rise. Hounds are hunters bred to prove it in the woods and fields. Hopefully they have an opportunity to demonstrate such skills and are not confined to a rhinestone leash to be walked as cute city slickers.
The only responsibility of mixed breeds is to behave well so that the human who took them in will keep them to a ripe old age and through the long life will tell family and friends theirs is the best kind of dog.
The mixed breed has a little of this and a little of that, all of which builds into a unique personality. These are the dogs that kindhearted people adopt from the pound, the shelter, or perhaps at an adopt-a-pet event.
Then there are the strays that wander into the neighborhood looking for food and water. Once those needs are met, the homeless animal returns again and again. Perhaps the person who puts out the leftovers and water will someday open the door for a come-on-in welcome.
Whether we call the no-breeds discards, giveaways, mutts, or strays, the adoptees try very hard to show their appreciation for being rescued from a life begging on the street or captive in a cage. They want to please.
Certainly the bios of the competitors are fascinating. Unlike the entries in major canine competitions featured on cable TV, each mixed breed has a unique appearance. In pedigreed-dog shows, each contestant in the sporting, toy, herding, working, hound, and terrier group is similar because of breeding. They may differ slightly in body form and gait, but let's face it, a registered poodle looks pretty much like the next pureblood poodle. The same goes for the Pekinese, Newfoundalands, spaniels, Australian shepherds, English sheep dogs, and other breeds.
I can hear the announcer now, standing in the center of the ring, as the onetime strays and homeless canines are paraded before the judges: "And, now here's Ralph, a handsome fellow that was rescued from an animal shelter. He stuck his nose through the cage and it was love at first sight with his new owners. He's probably about 5 years old and the owners think he is a mixture of Labrador, collie, and Dalmatian.
"Next up is Sophia, the fluffy white 2 year old that may be a mix of poodle and terrier, and maybe her great grandfather was a Pomeranian. She's very loving.
"Friday was running loose in the neighborhood when he came to the door for a drink of water. He obviously came from a good home because he wore a collar and was well trained. But the collar did not have identification. His owners want to think Friday is German shepherd and golden retriever, but does that slim nose say greyhound?
"Honey is perfectly named for her color and disposition. Her elderly owners had to move into an assisted living facility and couldn't take her. They always said she was Manchester and Chihuahua, but the low slung body makes you wonder if dachshund is not also in the mix."