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Who Wouldn't Love a Dog with Facial Hair?
My dog Leonard was the smelliest dog on the earth. People used to walk into my house, sniff and then attempt to subtly breath through their mouths in order to avoid overtly holding their noses and offending us. One time at a dinner party, I was introduced to a woman who happened to be French.
"Oh," she said. "I know you. Vous etes la femme avec le grand chien qui pue." Translation: You're the lady with the big dog who stinks.
When I entered him into the Great American Mutt Show (a dog show especially for mixed breeds), the judges immediately kicked us out of the ring. I was outraged, so was Leonard. He broke free, hopped back into the ring and trotted around the circle, solo, until hustled away.
Imagine my delight when the American Kennel Club last week announced the official recognition of three new dog breeds: the American English coonhound, the Finnish Lapphund and the Cesky terrier (say those names three times fast).
According to the AKC website, American English coonhounds (at left) are "affectionate dogs that ... make great companions for active owners."
The Cesky terrier, though, had me at woof (the gray dog, just below). Sure, these terriers are "loyal to their families, patient, gentle and get along well with people of all ages." They are also "anxious to please and easy to train."
But just look at the inexplicable, unflattering swoop of fur on this dog's nose! It gushes, not unlike a forehead waterfall!
"What do you call that beard thing between his eyes?" I asked Lisa Peterson, director of communications for the American Kennel Club.
"A beard," Peterson said, "would be under his chin."
"Is it a mustache?" I asked. "An eye mustache?"
"It's facial hair," she said. "It's a dog with facial hair."
She did not establish what distinguishes facial hair on a dog from the rest of the hair all over his face. But she did say that the dog did not have to be groomed that way. "It just depends on whether or not you want to show your dog, because the judges are looking for that."
Hmm...I have absolutely no desire to show my Cesky terrier-to-be. But I absolutely want him to come with a less-than-elegant flop of frizzled facial hair, which will forever endear him to me, in particular when he happens to get a glop of spaghetti sauce or a rogue dust bunny stuck to it.
I'll admit it. I love ugly dogs. I love that they bound joyously through the grass, not knowing or caring if they're attractive, filled with drool and inner canine pride. I love that they remind me that you don't have to be the sleek, sexy, European model (sorry, American English coonhound and Finnish Lapphund) but can exist quite happily as the clunky, too-round or too-skinny, ho-hum model. Because dogs aren't cats. They're like us humans; they only have one life.
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