Menu toggle icon.
Menu toggle icon.

Merits of the Dog

Merits of the Dog

Can a breeder or owner-handler still win on the merits of the dog or do the best advertising campaigns win? We used to show breed type and soundness, but today we seem to show our dogs in what amounts to celebrity spots.

Those thoughts bothered my brain… demanded a look at human genetics and that weird thing called EGO, something we humans have in abundance.

We strive to bolster our image through the arts, business, or sports. Many famous people own a dog with which they can simply relax and be themselves. Or, because dogs love to play, a famous athlete wants a partner to practice that new move on…

When you think about it, the desire to excel is what took us to the moon, and for dog breeders, mastering genetics is an equally awesome adventure. Yeah, we dog breeders see canine pathways to perfection whereas an astronaut could stare at a pedigree for hours and still not see what makes it work.

And then there’s this. Nothing boosts the human ego as much as being loved and admired and always being right. People can be fickle. Lose your job, your money, and friends may desert you. Your dog? No way. Not happening.

Your truest best friend will stick with you through hell, high water, and whatever comes next. Mark that “merit” in anyone’s book!

Do you remember the discrimination against bully breeds when, really, it was humans who promoted pit fighting? To blame the dogs makes as much sense as refusing prime rib because millions of people watch bullfighting.

dog merits

As breeders and dog show exhibitors, most of what we see, think, and hear has to do with “man’s best friend.” But for some breeds, getting accepted into the AKC registry for purebred dogs wasn’t easy nor was it a pathway to popularity.

In a way, “purebred” is a misnomer because all dog “breeds” were the result of a cross between some other AKC or Kennel Club (England) breed and, truth-be-told, those “crosses” were often with a mutt that had characteristics a bitch’s owner admired.

Speaking of England… The Kennel Club (of England) was founded in 1873, the same year as the first Great Depression in the US. Did our Maker foresee that dogs could help us through that terrible time? For many people, their only tangible comfort was the dog at their side.

Think about it. Other than family, what on earth could have given us such unwavering loyalty, comfort, and smiles in a time so sad for mankind? Only the dog. Cats don’t care and horses would rather be free.

From Australia to Zimbabwe, from Tibet at the top of the world to the bottom in Antarctica, dogs signify universal and unwavering loyalty. Then add the fact that dogs replaced our awkward traps and shared their kills so that we could eat meat and become smart enough to make weapons with which to secure bigger game—literally “meat for the mind.”

Amazing, eh? Well, there’s more… Dogs became our best friends because they have an uncanny ability to help us through emotional depression. Today there are Therapy Dogs, but you and I both know dogs don’t have to be trained to know why they are here.

Think about it. Humans have made it through war and personal grief and financial losses and, looking back, it was all a little easier with a dog at our side.

Dogs are empathetic, sympathetic, and above all, therapeutic. What is especially amazing is that high-bred show dogs, loved and nurtured from the moment of their birth, have exactly the same instinct as the mutt born in a back alley in India (the country with the highest population of street dogs).

dog merits

What is especially amazing is that high-bred show dogs, loved and nurtured from the moment of their birth, have exactly the same instinct as the mutt born in a back alley in India (the country with the highest population of street dogs).

Without that unique bonding instinct, there would be no such thing as purebred dogs and no need for The Kennel Club (England) and the American Kennel Club, and all the other dog clubs around the world.

People are people just as dogs are dogs and cows are cows. That is the way nature planned it. But dogs are the only species that comes to humans, even if it is on their belly because a warped human taught them to fear us! Stop right there. Think…

Dogs offer themselves to us. They accept abuse from troubled owners because that’s part of their job. Dogs have actually starved to death while staying with an owner who had died and no one knew or cared… except the dog.

If that doesn’t make you stop and think, then just quit reading. Unless you didn’t know that dog owners have higher levels of serotonin and dopamine than non-dog owners. Is that a coincidence? Nah.

Serotonin regulates mood and is associated with happiness. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter hormone which plays a role in motivation, memory, and pleasurable sensations.

OK, we’re done. Go find those old merit badges you packed away after you were done with Scouting. They belong on your dog.