This is a Sunday special issue in honor of my favorite sporting event of the year. The rest of you can have your Super Bowls, your World Series, your Final Four or your Stanley Cup. For me, it's the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Now, anyone who knows me is aware that I'm a cat person. I've had cats all my life, and I've NEVER had a dog. I think dogs are beautiful and smart. I admire them from afar. But I don't know the first thing about training one, or house-breaking one, or even becoming friends with one.
Once in a while, I'm tempted. Dear friends have adopted a rescue mutt they named Sophie. I can't begin to describe Sophie, other than the basics of medium sized, white with a few black patches. Recently we had dinner with them, and about half-way through the meal, I felt a nudge under the table. When I glanced down, there was Sophie, sitting at my feet, chin on my knee, looking back at me with the most soulful and intelligent brown eyes I'd ever seen. OK, so I fell in love on the spot. But I wouldn't want to take her home with me; I'm content to visit.
I also credit a dog with convincing me to become a
member of Lions Clubs International. I had an opportunity to meet a couple of puppies who were being trained to serve as Leader Dogs for the Blind, as well as a huge German Shepherd whose talents let his blind owner travel all over the world. And right then I knew I had to become involved with an organization that helped make these dogs available to those who need them. I'll help others get dogs to fit their needs, but I still am not ready to make a long-term commitment.
Every year I get my basic "dog fix" by watching the Westminster Show. And this year, I have a new favorite. One of the six new breeds admitted to the show for the first time is 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.
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, you'll find me wrapped in something fleecy, glued to the TV, and rooting for a breed that produces the the cutest pups I've seen in a long time.