2018-02-14 / Editorials

Dog Olympics?

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

I'm glad the Winter Olympics are back, because I love the Olympics. But I’m conflicted. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is on another channel, and, dog lover that I am, I want to watch that, too.

So with my remote control in my hand, I switch back and forth between the two channels, watching a few minutes of speed skating and snowboarding, then a few minutes of the sporting group and the herding group.

On one channel, I watched the human drama of athletic competition, amazing young athletes who have given up so much in their lives to become among the very best in the world at their chosen sport.

On the other channel, I watched well-groomed dogs stand at attention while a stern-looking judge checked their teeth.

Don’t get me wrong. The Westminster folks put on a great show. But, as beautiful as they are, dog-show dogs are also beloved family pets, much like Milly, the liver and white springer spaniel who lives at my house.

And all of them can do so much more than stand still and look pretty.

So why not make the dog show more like the Olympics. I hope the Westminster folks don’t take offense, but I have a few ideas to make next year’s dog show even more entertaining.

Tug of War: Every dog I’ve ever known has enjoyed a good game of tug of war. Milly likes to play tug of war with anything and this event could show off the dogs’ strength.

The Tennis Ball Fetch: This event has the possibilities of being both a summer dog show event and a winter dog show event. In the summer, dogs could fetch a ball thrown into a lake, while in the winter, they could chase a ball in the snow.

The Tennis Ball Fake: Bonus points go to dogs that realize you didn’t really throw the ball, you hid it behind your back.

Furniture Obstacle Course: Milly goes into a frenzy when I get home in the evening. She starts by leaping on me. Then she takes off into the bedroom, where she jumps on, then off the bed. And then she comes back into the living room, runs around the coffee table and back to the door, where she jumps on me again. Sometimes she’ll run another lap or two. You would deduct points, of course, for dogs that lose their footing and go crashing into the sofa.

Grabbing Items off the Kitchen Counter: Milly is constantly trying to sneak food off the counter. Bonus points are awarded if the dog is able to do this while the owner is also in the kitchen. This would test a dog’s agility and leaping abilities, so Great Danes, who are taller than the kitchen counter, are not eligible to compete.

Door Bell Reaction: Best overall reaction when the UPS man arrives at the door wins the gold. This event would require judges, though, which could be problematic, because you just know the French judge is going to favor the poodle.

The Treat Catch: I occasionally balance a treat on the end of Milly’s nose. The object is for her to jerk her head quickly, causing the treat to fall. She should then catch the treat in mid-air. Unfortunately, Milly has learned that if she simply nods her head slightly, the treat will fall and she can just snatch it up off the floor.

I hope the Westminster folks will let me know soon what they think of my ideas. Milly obviously needs to work on this event before next year’s show.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN.com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/mitch.

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