New event is mutts' best friend
NEW YORK — When the nation's foremost dog show added an event open to mixed breeds, owners cheered that everydogs were finally having their day.
They see the Westminster Kennel Club's agility competition, which will allow mutts at the elite event next month for the first time since the 1800s, as a singular chance to showcase what unpedigreed dogs can do.
“It's great that people see that, ‘Wow, this is a really talented mixed breed that didn't come from a fancy breeder,' ” said Stacey Campbell, a San Francisco dog trainer heading to Westminster with Roo!, a high-energy — see exclamation point — husky mix she adopted from an animal shelter.
“I see a lot of great dogs come through shelters, and they would be great candidates for a lot of sports. And sometimes they get overlooked because they're not purebred dogs,” Campbell said.
Roo! will be one of about 225 agility dogs whizzing through tunnels, around poles and over jumps before the Westminster crowd. And, if she makes it to the championship, on national TV.
Animal-rights advocates call the development a good step, though it isn't ending their long-standing criticism that the show champions a myopic view of man's best friend.
Westminster's focus is still on the nearly 190 breeds — three of them newly eligible — that get to compete toward the best-in-show trophy; more than 90 percent of the agility competitors are purebreds, too. But Westminster representatives have made a point of noting the new opening for mixed breeds, or “all-American dogs,” in show speak.
“It allows us to really stand behind what we say about Westminster being the show for all the dogs in our lives” while enhancing the 138-year-old event with a growing, fun-to-watch sport, said David Frei, the show's longtime TV host.
Matt Bershadker, president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hopes introducing mixed breeds at Westminster will lead emphasis “away from the aesthetics of dogs to what is special about dogs ... the very, very special connection that people have with dogs.”
Irene Palmerini connected with Alfie, a poodle mix, when she spotted him seven years ago in a mall pet shop, seeming eager to get out of his crate. She wasn't looking for a dog but couldn't resist him.
Nor was she looking to take up canine agility, but he had energy that needed a focus.
Now, she's gearing up to bring Alfie to Westminster, with excitement and a bit of incredulity.
“I'm representing everybody who just sits on their couch with their dog,” said Palmerini, of Toms River, N.J. “He's just our pet.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mortgage deal isn’t likely to cost $17B
- Navy boots 34 in cheating scandal
- Last 4 hostages freed in suburban Chicago
- Beheading doesn’t deter U.S., who launches new airstrikes
- Cleanup follows heavy storms in Phoenix area
- Contraception, abstinence push U.S. teen birthrates to historic lows
- More states pick up tab for ACT exams
- Florida looks good: Farmer’s Almanac predicts ‘super-cold’ winter, above-average snow for Northeast
- Poll: Common Core educational standards loses support
- Scathing report says college trustees fail in mission
- CDC scientist took shortcuts with bird flu