Of the dozens of breeds of dogs on display at last weekend's Colorado Springs Kennel Club Dog Show, my favorite was the bloodhound -- a loveable floppy-eared pooch known for its uncanny ability to track down people, such as convicts.
The only minor glitch in the parade of bloodhounds -- and it was such a trivial thing I hesitate even to mention it -- came when an energetic 8-month-old pup named Cheerio broke free from her leash, headed south and chased ex-cocaine dealer and current Fountain City Councilman Al Lender up a tree.
Seriously, the show brought together hundreds of magnificent dogs under the roof of the Southern Colorado Expo Center on Union Boulevard, a run-down building with a bare concrete floor that anchors a decaying mini-mall with a pothole-filled parking lot.
And, yet, some busybodies in our village keep insisting we need a "convention center."
Footnote: The event originally was slated for the magnificent field house at the Air Force Academy, but show organizers had to find a new site when Academy football coach and devout Christian Fisher DeBerry complained that the dobermans and schnauzers "sounded Jewish."
The pre-show favorite
The show kicked off on Saturday in Ring 1 with the judging of the temperamental Italian greyhounds. The pre-show favorite, Gotti, finished a disappointing sixth and reacted by breaking the winner's kneecaps with a baseball bat. (The judge woke up Monday morning with a Lhasa Apso's head in his bed.)
There were beagles, too, both the 13-inch beagle and, for those with a bigger appetite, the 15-inch beagle. (Although I may be confusing my dog show notes with notes from an upcoming story on Subway sandwich shops.)
There were spaniels and basset hounds and retrievers and Alaskan malamutes and even Shih Tz Shi Tzu uh, poodles. And Boston terriers, too, energetic dogs that made a lot of noise with their constant bahking.
There even were dogs I never had heard of, such as a French breed known as Bouviers des Flandres (or "Biting the Florist"). Unfortunately, the showing of this breed was interrupted when a large group of German shepherds entered the expo center and the Bouviers des Flandres, guided by their instincts, scampered into the basement and hid for six years.
Doing what's expected
Adding to the excitement were the judges, who scrutinized the dogs and then actually shouted out such things as, "What a bitch!" I reacted the way I always do -- by looking nervously over my shoulder for my former boss at the Gazette.
Also at the show were teenagers armed with mops, buckets and plastic bags. Their job was to scoop up dog poop and scrub the floor. A few people snickered at them when they were summoned to the scene of a doggie accident, though their most humiliating moment came when the German shorthairs pointed.
There were Irish wolfhounds and Irish setters, too, both dogs driven by thousands of years of strict Irish breeding to perform the duties expected of them. (The Irish wolfhound distracted the Saint Bernard, and the Irish setter stole the wooden cask of whiskey that was hanging from the huge dog's neck.)
And the boxers were a big hit, too. I arrived in time to watch this breed parade for the title of "Winner's Dog." The title went to entry No. 27, a magnificent boxer who impressed the judges with erect ears, a perfectly cropped tail, satin trunks embroidered with the word "Champ" and, inside the trunks, a cup.
A fresh muffin
But my favorite dog of the entire show was the Newfoundland, a gigantic dog renowned for its bravery and loyalty and, as a bonus, for its ability to make its owner get a second job to afford a 5,000-pound bag of dog food every week.
The Newfoundland's diet, though, also can be supplemented with a fresh muffin.
An example of the Newfoundland's keen muffin-hunting skills was on display Sunday morning at the show. Tyler, a 19-month-old, 135-pound Newfoundland owned by Heike Bartlett of Colorado Springs, spotted his victim -- a friend of Bartlett's -- eating a lovely cranberry muffin.
Tyler, who is roughly the size of a Kia automobile (and will in all likelihood last longer), first tried looking cute, employing the old Would someone please give the giant sad dog just a little tiny piece of the muffin? routine.
When that didn't work, Tyler went to Plan B, which consisted of leaping onto the startled woman, putting his monstrous paws over her shoulders and licking the muffin.
Tyler's instincts, passed down from ancestors who roamed the rugged coastline of his native land for thousands of years, told him that few humans will eat a muffin covered in a fresh layer of dog spit.
(Personal note: I still would eat such a muffin before I'd eat Chicken McNuggets.)
The woman signaled defeat and the end of her breakfast by making a funny face and shouting "Eeeewwww!" And Tyler got his muffin.
"He's such a goofball," Bartlett said. "He's thinking, 'Everybody's watching me. I need attention. So I'm going to act like a complete goofball.'"
Which led to the obvious thought: If we could pin a big black tail on D-11 school board member Eric Christen and give him a muffin, he'd be a Newfoundland.
You can hear Rich Tosches on Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. with "Coffey in the Morning" on My 99.9 FM.