It's all politics
How has the Glen of Imaal terrier not yet won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show you ask? You ask, don't you? Politics! Darn politics. The hardy breed comes from the Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland. They were invented to be all-purpose dogs by the Hessians who were "awarded" some really crummy land for helping the Irish with the French. Yeah, that wasn't nice.
So the Hessians developed this terrier to be low to the ground (about 14 inches tall) but sturdy enough to break a badger's neck with its steely jaws. .
But the Glen of Imaal didn't get recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2004. Westminster is like ice dancing. You have to work your way up, talent be darned, for years. Oh, yeah, they should win just for this: They don't shed.
'Interesting' Lab mix
The Morning Call
A Labrador mix we adopted, Sly, acts like a dog — not a dog-android that you see at Westminster. Sly's the perfect amalgam of unbridled Lab enthusiasm and some cool, calculating breed we have yet to identify. Unlike our purebred Lab, Sly does not go bonkers at the mere sight of a tennis ball.
His ears perk up as he waits for our other dog to retrieve it, then snatches it out of her mouth, looking superior. If he were human, he'd be that most interesting man in the world from the Dos Equis commercials. Not to say he's disciplined. The holes he digs make our backyard look like a minefield. But when it comes to the core dog competencies, he's as loyal and affectionate as they get.
Retrievers live to please
You just can't go wrong with any dog with the word "retriever" in the name. Golden. Labrador. Whatever. Since my dogs aren't purebred, I call them "retriever-ish" or "retriever-esque." Nadine was listed as a Lab in the shelter, but her coloring is more golden retriever. Like every "retriever-ish" dog I have ever encountered, she lives to please people.
Maybe it's that retriever breeds were trained for years to bring stuff to people. Nadine will do anything I ask. Why can't people realize their lives should revolve around making me happy?
I have had a lot of very loving dogs (and a couple who were more ... independent), but the "retriever-ish" dogs are by far the best companions.
A distinctive recipe
There is no category for my favorite breed, Alfred, because no one knows exactly how to make one. Like an Italian family recipe, you can only guess the ingredients.
Take one part boxer, for the stoic charm the 8-year-old PAWS rescue displays. A hint of hound, for squirrel-chasing ability and expressive ears. A bit of mastiff for an iron stomach. Alfred's perfect diet is bread and spicy leftovers from Chinese takeout direct from the trash.
Add a pinch of seal for a distinctive bark.
Finally, a dash of lap dog. Even his 70 pounds won't stop Alfred from curling up as close as he can, your leg his pillow. That, like the Italian recipe, is good for the soul.