Tuesday, March 31, 2009

J'ai voyagé par tous le monde grace au chien

So I was told by an international dog judge on Saturday. He had been judging dogs for 45 years, and had been evrywhere. I was supposed to be the interpreter. I don't really do French, but the organizers seemed to think that as I spoke 'foreign', I would do. It's part of how I pay for the beer and the fags.

It is fascinating to hear from experts in anything, and experts in something you barely knew existed can open up new worlds and new understanding. Each breed has a standard of hair, colour, teeth, construction, gait and so on, against which the living Canis familiaris is judged, and the one that comes nearest to the Platonic form of its breed is declared the winner.

The owners brush, blow-dry, wipe mouths, straighten tufts, legs and snouts, then make a rather gay-looking circuit of the ring, with lots of bounce and flex in the wrist. The dogs are more interested in each other, in the balls and whistles and squeaky toys the owners use to fix their attention, except the chiuauas and the pomeranians which are prouder and more aloof than they have any right to be with a mastiff on one side and a great dane on the other, and the judges watch every movement, every pose, every detail of the form and colour, and pronounce, via a secretary and an announcer, the winner, who expresses his or her joy with sound and gesture, and the losers walk off trying to look pleased to have taken part, before complaining to their friends that the judge was blind and the whole contest rigged.

Just like football, really.

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