Best in Show
The Editor in Chief reflects on Napoleon's chances for victory - at Westminster.
Desperate times call for hopeful measures. With unemployment rising and credit markets tanking, I can think of no better palliative to the spirit than going to a dog show. Although my wife and I do not currently own a dog (we worry that our half-blind, half-mad cat, Emma, would make mincemeat out of even the beefiest Rottweiler puppy), we are inveterate watchers of the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual spectacle of silliness. The first few times I watched these pageants, I chafed at the indignities man (and woman) eagerly inflicts on our so-called best friend. Forget the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) propaganda, there can be no doubt that the poodle was created by a lunatic French topiarist. Then I began observing that, unlike, say, the participants at the annual Miss Hawaiian Tropic competition, the dogs at Westminster seemed to be gleefully participating in their own objectification. Finally, I saw Christopher Guest’s comedic masterpiece Best in Show, and the scales dropped from my eyes. At these one-ring circuses the true clowns walk on two legs, not four, and they all wear sensible shoes.
When the editors of this magazine heard last year that several purebreds from Maine would be entering the Westminster show, we couldn’t resist sending a writer and photographer to tag along (page 40). It didn’t take a nose for news to realize that, of all the dogs going, our choice must necessarily be the long-coated Chihuahua from Harpswell. Is there any breed less representative of the rugged state of Maine? The papillon, perhaps, or the shih tzu. But I happen to think it’s wonderfully appropriate that one of the Pine Tree State’s official ambassadors to the court at Westminster is this majestically self-confident little ball of fluff. Contributing writer Cynthia Anderson compares Napoleon — yes, that’s really his name — to Tom Cruise. “He’s big in attitude, influence, and accomplishment,” she writes, “if not in stature.” (Also, they both enjoy bouncing on furniture.)
In the bleak mid-winter, when downtown Portland can accurately be described by essayist Agnes Bushell as a “Siberian city” (page 36) and the Dow is plunging faster than the Fahrenheit, we could all use some of Napoleon’s cheerful optimism. Will our hero prevail over his too-perfect rival, Paloma, and take home the big enchilada? Stay tuned. I know I will be — with a hot cup of decaf at hand and Emma grumbling disapprovingly from my lap.
Editor in Chief
- By: Paul Doiron