Every year I get my basic "dog fix" in February by watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from Madison Square Garden. In the midst of all the other February awards shows, this one has a special charm. Its winners are unpretentious, fully dressed, honestly grateful, and having a good time. In 2011, I discovered a new favorite. One of the six new breeds admitted to the show for the first time that year was the Boykin Spaniel, the official dog of the State of South Carolina.
The Boykin is a small dog (about 40 pounds, max.) and 15 to 18 inches high. It is bred to be a hunter and agile enough to jump in and out of small swamp boats without upsetting the boat. Since most of my books are set in the Low Country of South Carolina, I can understand the appeal of this energetic little dog.
This year there are five Boykin Spaniels entered in the sporting group. I have no real hope that a Boykin will end up as "Best of Show." Newcomers seldom do. But while the breed is making its mark among usual favorites, I'll be cheering it on. If you're looking for me on Monday or Tuesday night this week, you'll find me wrapped in something fleecy, glued to the TV, and rooting for a South Carolina breed that produces the cutest pups I've seen in a long time.