My dog is not perfect. He’s beautiful all right, but he’s not perfect. At least not according to the Kennel Club, preservers of the breed and creators of the Whippet Breed Standard. Although he is pretty much ‘correct’, my whippet has one major imperfection: his ears. The standard says that they should be “rose shaped, small and fine in texture”. Well, his aren’t. Rose-shaped, that is.
My whippet has ‘bat’ ears that make him look like a wizard or, some would say, a pharaoh hound. Although not too bad when he’s relaxed or disinterested, his ears come to life as soon as something catches his attention, which happens very often. Once up, they only come down when he’s begging for handouts from the dinner table or, strangely enough, when he watches my daughter’s hamsters swing on their monkey bars.
Now, I am a true supporter of the pure-bred, pedigree dogs and conformity with the standards. I am aware that without these many breeds could face peril in their original form. In fact, I used to be so obsessed with the standards that I often found myself following George around with the camera trying to capture him looking proper. I felt like I had something to prove. I don’t anymore. I’ve accepted that I won’t be able to show my dog, which I never wanted to do in the first place. And, most importantly, I’ve learnt to accept my dog for who he is.
I believe that it is not only ridiculous, but also detrimental to rigidly apply the above-mentioned standards outside of the show ring and judge a dog’s quality solely on physical criteria. Most dogs end up as pets, not show exhibits. So surely, their nature, temperament and predisposition, as well as that je ne sais quoi that lets us know we’ve found the right one as soon as he looks in our eyes should matter more than any physical imperfection.
To me, George’s ‘bat’ ears are his trademark, a reflection of his personality, a sign of intelligence and proof that he has a keen interest in what’s going on around him. They are a quality, and not a defect. Apparently, he also wags his tail too much, but this is not even worth a second thought. Aren’t dogs supposed to wag their tail when they’re happy? If they were human, they’d be so concerned with looking and acting the correct way that they’d forget how to have fun. Luckily for them, they’re just dogs.
So let’s celebrate our imperfect dogs, appreciate them for who they are and be grateful for the love, laughter and sunshine they bring to our lives!