Would you rather win two Gold Gloves and make two All-Star appearances before your 24th birthday? Or would you rather be named the best dang Xoloitzcuintli in the country at the age of 2?
Apparently, if your name is Manny Machado, all worlds are ripe for conquering.
Orioles fans have long since fallen for the precocious, baseball-playing version of Machado. But as he and his teammates prepare to begin spring training later this week, another Manny Machado has burst on the national scene. That would be the canine version, who’s named after the Orioles third baseman and who took Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday night.
Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the name of said breed, which is perhaps best known as the national dog of Mexico. It’s acceptable to call them Xolos.
Xolos are sleek, hairless and agile with batlike ears. They’ve been prized as guard dogs for centuries and in the distant past were often buried with their owners so they could continue to offer protection in the afterlife.
“Shaped by the environment rather than by man, their keen intelligence, trainability and natural cleanliness have made them a unique and valued pet today,” according to the Westminster Kennel Club web site.
They’re known for being a bit aloof, but that’s not Manny Machado at all, says Lynda Hylton, who raised him in Salisbury, about three miles from where the baseball-playing Machado once suited up for the Delmarva Shorebirds.
“He’s almost too friendly,” she says. “The world is his oyster. If Mr. Machado were to meet him, he’d just be wagging his tail, excited.”
She also trained Manny’s champion father, Giorgio Armani. “He was a bit of an ass,” she says. “Self-centered.”
The 2-year-old Manny was born in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and breeder J. Frank Baylis gave him to Hylton for training when he was 4 months old. He stayed with her for about a year, and she named him.
Though Hylton grew up an Orioles fan, she doesn’t pay careful attention to baseball these days. But she’s so close to the Shorebirds’ home, that she can’t help but be aware of the Single-A affiliate’s players. As she tried to picture a future marketing campaign for her promising young Xolo, Machado’s name just seemed to fit. It rolled off the tongue, and the player had struck her as such a nice, telegenic young man.
“I just hope we haven’t hurt Mr. Machado by using his name,” Hylton says. “But I don’t think we could have asked for a lot more from this dog.”
Manny Machado currently lives in Pennsylvania with his show handler Carissa Shimpeno. After his big performance at Madison Square Garden, he’ll likely compete for at least the rest of this year and next. Maybe one day, he’ll get to compare trophies with his namesake.