Rhapsody Has Two Mommies, New Competition

At this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show, to be held at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 11 and 12, four breeds will make their W.K.C. debut: Plott, Tibetan Mastiff, Beauceron and Swedish Vallhund.

It’s about time these critters had their chance to compete with the best of ‘em. Take a Plott (hound group), for example; the Kurtz of the dog world if there ever was one. Among the adjectives attributed to the Plott on the Westminster Web site are intelligent, alert, bold, fearless, confident. Nary a negative trait to be found. “Noted for stamina, endurance, agility, determination and aggressiveness when hunting, the powerful, well muscled, yet streamlined Plott combines courage with athletic ability,” the site reads. “The Plott easily traverses various terrains with agility and speed.” According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the breed was born around 1750, when the Plott brothers moved from Germany to the mountains of North Carolina toting dogs. Pine-nut, pistachio-nut, pea-nut…

Then there’s the Tibetan Mastiff (working group), a friendly-faced fuzz-ball whose appearance fittingly evokes Buddha—during his chubby, final-days-at-Graceland period. Looks can be deceiving, though, because the Tibetan Mastiff has “spent generations working as a guardian of women and children,” says the breed’s official association, which has also decided its head is “impressive.” The breed is also capable of taking its guardian duties a bit far. The owner of a Tibetan Mastiff in England is heading to court this month, according to the Lancashire Evening Post, after it “bit a postman and a member of the public,” also a male.

The Beauceron (herding group), a Nicolas Sarkozy of sorts, “is an old and distinct French breed of herding dog, bred and selected for their aptitude to herd and guard large flocks of sheep,” according to the W.K.C. site. Apparently known for its endurance, a Beauceron “demands respect wherever it goes.” Er else? (See Tibetan Mastiff, above.)

And bringing up the rear—figuratively and literally—is the Swedish Vallhund (herding group), a “small, powerful, fearless, and study-built” breed known even to the Vikings. Earlier this month, a member of the breed was “the Pet of the Week” in Australia, according to a publication Down Under, the Manly Daily. In the habit of writing from the animal’s perspective in first-person prose, the item reads: “I am a friendly girl who loves people and other animals, going for walks, which should do me good as I need to shed a few kilos although I just prefer to think of myself as pleasantly plump.” Aye, lass—whatever floats your coat…

Rhapsody Has Two Mommies, New Competition