The Westminster Dog Show was on TV last week. Here are the facts: Smooth-haired dachshunds have been showing at the Westminster since 1877, and not one — not a single one, zero, zip, nada — smooth-haired dachshund has won Best in Show.
So what if I happen to own a dachshund currently wallowing in front of the floor heater with her little chicken thighs pointing skyward. This is about sports fairness.
Poodles have won Best in Show. Oh, yeah, plenty of poodles have won. You got your girly-girl Pekingese, your Pomeranian, your whippet, your papillon, dogs that some cultures eat for dessert — they’ve won Best in Show. You got your fox terrier, Airedale terrier, white terrier, Sealyham terrier, Welsh
terrier, West Highland white terrier, Scottish terrier, Bedlington terrier, Yorkshire terrier, Norwich terrier — the whole debased clan of constantly fornicating terriers — they’ve won Best in Show. Plenty of winners there. You’ve got your stone-cold killers: Doberman Pinschers and Siberian huskies — they’ve won. You got your teatime hunting dog, English setter — he’s won. Then, there are the spaniels: English, Irish water, and this year’s winner, a Sussex spaniel by the name of “Stump,” or as I prefer to call him, “Stumpy.” Stumpy the amazing 103-year-old Sussex spaniel won Best in Show this year. But for the noble, intelligent, devil-may-care dachshund, there is no room at the table.
I’ve got Bill Buck on the phone. He and his wife Susan own Nuforest Dachshunds in Ramona. I ask, “What’s the deal with miniatures never winning?”
“Judges like bigger dogs.”
Bill and Susan Buck are dachshund breeders with an inventory of “120 miniatures and lots of puppies.” They got with dachshunds in the mid ’70s, “wanted something small. She had a litter of puppies and went on from there.” Buck retired from the San Diego Fire Department in 1991 and has been full on with dachshunds ever since going to 75, 80 dog shows every year.
Buck says, “The dachshund is not a flashy dog, something that flies around the ring at a nice clip. Running is not what a dachshund does. They don’t motivate that well. They dig a hole and go into the hole. They’re not a nice, crowd-pleasing, flashy dog.”
“How are you treated at dog shows?” I want to know if dachshund hatred extends to the human companion.
“It’s very political at the other end of the leash,” Buck says. “It’s how many times that particular judge has seen that particular dog with that particular handler. It’s what kind of advertising owners have authorized their professional handlers to place in magazines. You’re talking about budgets of $250,000 to $500,000 per year.”
“Is it like the Oscars? Studios place ads in trade papers, ‘My movie is great!’”
“The Oscars, everybody votes for Johnny Jones because he did a real good job in the movie. Say, a judge is judging wirehaired dachshunds. He’s looking at all the champions in the ring, and he’s looking at which professional handler is handling which dog. And he recognizes the professional handlers because they show to the same judges all the time.”
“Is it a matter of, ‘I like this handler’ or ‘I don’t like this handler’?”
“That’s correct. If I’m handling a wirehaired dachshund I’ve shown the judge and I didn’t win, he didn’t put me up. He went to some other dog. I’m not going to waste my client’s money by entering under [the same judge] anymore. I’ll fly to Atlanta and show this dog to Mary Smith because two weeks ago in San Jose, Mary Smith gave my dog a nice Best of Breed win or even a placement in the Hound group.”
It is a conspiracy. “Let’s say you wanted to show off a dachshund’s chest to a judge. What would you do?”
“I would take the ear and put it over the dog’s eye so it would cover up the head and accentuate the neck. And then I’d pet the dog down the shoulder a couple of times…not play with the tail, wouldn’t stretch the tail out, I’d let the tail drop down. I’d put the back leg where it’s supposed to go and then leave it, wouldn’t correct it if it was wrong. I’d pet the shoulder again and hold the head of the dog so it best accentuates the front legs, the shoulders, the layback of the shoulder blade and the depth of chest on the front legs.”
“Let’s talk about Stumpy.”
“I’m not happy with [Stump], even though it’s probably a nice dog, but it came out of retirement two weeks ago and…”
The Bucks will be showing at Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check sdfair.com for particulars.