Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New Breed Standard

I have a very good dog. Really. She’s stupendous.

If she were a person, she’d be like, I don’t know, Nelson Mandela or something. She’s that good. I mean, she’d lend you money without asking why you needed it, or, if need be, tell you, “Give me your car keys. You’ve had too much to drink.”

We call her a West Virginia Sheptriever because, not surprisingly, she came from West Virginia – the nation’s leading exporter of unwanted puppies -- and she’s got a bit of Labrador Retriever and also a bit of border collie or Australian shepherd in her. Something like that. Whatever it is, it’s good stuff, and it produces a superior animal with a perky ears and a shaggy, waggy tail. Actually it’s the whole back end of her that wags. She just can’t help it.

Alas, good as she is, she could never compete in a dog show, could never come home with a trophy cup or a big, engraved crystal dish. And why is this? Because she’s a mutt. And the single reason she can’t compete in a dog show is because, as a mutt, there is no standard for her breed. Every mutt is unique, and therefore there is no way to compare one mutt to another. No breed standard means no judging which means no Best in Show and no champion blood lines.

Does that seem right to you? That a creature could be penalized for being unique? I mean, this is America! Unique is what we’re all about. This whole country is lousy with unique.

I’ll admit that it would be difficult to judge a bunch of animals that are all different in physical appearance, but couldn’t there be some other way to compare them? Say, by judging their temperament? Because this is where she would triumph. All I’d need to do is create one those fancy, puffed up AKC descriptions for her, and that is not a problem for me at all. I can do fancy, puffed-upness with the best of them.

So here it is – the breed standard for West Virginia Sheptrievers:

Known for its extreme friendliness and near-constant state of enthusiasm, the West Virginia Sheptriever is a hardy, good-natured dog with an all-encompassing, indiscriminate joie de vivre. An alert and ever agreeable companion, the WVS is loyal, pithy, humble, and always at ease in any social setting, though she never tries to outshine you in front of other people.

Infinitely adaptable, the WVS thrives in almost any climate or circumstance. She likes being indoors or outdoors equally – so equally, in fact, that she wants to go back and forth between the two several dozen times a day because she simply cannot decide which she prefers. Preternaturally gregarious, she falls passionately in love with everyone she meets and wants to play with every dog she encounters and doesn’t understand why the feeling isn’t mutual sometimes, though she suspects that some dogs have just had a rough start in life and so she doesn’t hold it against them when they growl or act aloof, although sometimes they can be kind of scary and mean, which makes her pee a little.

The WVS is a well-balanced, agile dog with a deft, insightful mind that helps you sort out some or your issues and gently points out areas where growth would be advisable if you ever hope to establish long-term, meaningful relationships. She is philosophical by nature, but also pragmatic. She is capable of conducting an energy audit on your home, and could give you pointers on how to save money on your water, gas and electric bills, but she wouldn’t because that would be kind of obnoxious unless, you know, you asked specifically.

But for the lack of a thumb, she’d happily use those sticky hair-removal things to clean her own dog hair off the furniture and could no doubt take exquisitely detailed messages when people called while you’re out. You could give her twenty bucks to run out to the store for beer, and she’d bring you the change. Heck, she’d give you the whole twenty back and say, “Hey, man, it’s on me.”

She doesn’t gossip, takes no pleasure in the failings of others, and stands up for you when people insinuate you can be kind of an ass sometimes.

Additionally she wants you to know that whatever take-out you want to order or whichever restaurant you’re in the mood for, that’s OK by her. Also, she likes your new super short hair cut and doesn't think it was a mistake. In fact, you’re perfect just the way you are and anyone would be lucky to have you.

Do you have a noble mutt? Do please leave an AKC description for him/her in the comments section.