Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A not-so-shaggy dog story

I watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show the last two nights — another family tradition, particularly since someone in Lisa’s dog club had a dog go Best of Oppposite a few years back. The dog slept through most of it, while the cats and I watched with some attention….

The best part, though, was during the Toy Group, when one of the diminutive champtions — I think it was the toy fox terrier — was introduced as "Louisville Slugger." (His father was "Grand Slam.") Not only is this funny to start with, it reminded me of one of our trips to Chicago, and the first time I ever saw a Chinese Crested.

We were staying at a hotel near the lake, in a neighborhood that clearly was full of dogs and dog-lovers, and that particular morning we'd decided to find coffee and croissants somewhere in the area before we headed off to the conference. Our search for an open coffeehouse led us past a small park, and as we passed it, we could see a guy behind the fence who looked like — well, like Tony Soprano's Chicago uncle. A goombah. A great big dark-haired dark-chinned man in polyester slacks and a polo shirt with a sports jacket over it, and a diamond ring you could see from across the street.

And as we tried not to giggle, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a plastic bag, and stooped to clean up after a dog that was too small to see behind the parked cars. A bulldog? A small pit bull? Some vicious little dog of uncertain lineage and obvious menace?

He carefully deposited the bagged waste in the trash can, then pulled out his handkerchief and picked up the dog: a Chinese Crested — a hairless Chinese Crested. He wiped its feet and the puffs of ankle fur, then settled in in the crook of his arm. It bounced up and licked his chin, bracing its now clean paws on his jacket, and he gave it a hug and walked on.

Naturally, we spent the next couple of days inventing stories about the man. Lisa found a name for him, but she never did get the chance to use him in a story. But now…. If you read anything of mine that includes a semi-retired mobster named Sonny Trentacosta and his little dog Louie (short, of course, for that well-known Chicago gangster's weapon, the Louisville Slugger), well, you'll know where they came from.


At 5:37 PM, Blogger Mel said...

It's always interesting to see these big, burly guys get all blubbery over their dogs. Of course, seeing as I'm nearly the same way over my little dog (whom you have yet to meet - we must remedy that).

We have part-time receptionist at the clinic who breeds Chinese cresteds.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger edired said...

Love dogs and cats . don't get " SHOWS " . But then for me it's always about character .

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Jude said...

Hee! My parents are big into dog shows -- have been showing Airedales since I was 5 or thereabouts -- and I have therefore been dragged (mostly unwilling) to more dog shows than I can count. (Never, alas, to Westminster.) But the vast array of huge men with tiny dogs and tiny women with huge dogs never fails to amuse me.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Diane in Chico said...

Melissa, it's good to see your writing chops are coming back!

It's funny the way cats watch television :-)


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