[gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]Long before the phrase “small dog syndrome” was coined as a recognized factor among dog lovers, I knew some of what this phrase alluded to. Yappy, ill-behaved and very tiny dogs that were hard to house train, exhibited separation anxiety, and effectively called the shots in their households. And I knew that I was never going to have one of those because, c’mon now. They weren’t really dogs. How could anything weighing under 18 pounds be taken seriously as a dog?
Could it be I was a bit of a “dog snob?”
How about a dog-savvy, “dog snob?”
Dog-savvy meaning that I know how to handle medium-sized, large and giant-sized dogs; have lived with fairly large dogs all of my life and, fast-forward to the present day, am married to a guy who believes that anything less than a Great Dane-sized dog is okay for someone else to live with, but not for him.
I supposed you could say that my re-education about small dogs started years ago when I sat ringside at an agility event. Two things you have to know at the start of this story. The agility event was one that had drawn dog enthusiasts from all over the country. So, A) it was competitive, which means as a spectator, I got to see some incredible performances by outstanding dogs and their handlers, and b) this was my first, up-close look at this sport.
I was mesmerized.
And, my girlfriend, who sat on the grassy slope next to me, was so taken with what we watched that she jumped head-over-heels into the sport and never looked back!
It was the end to a perfect dog day. We’d made the almost two hour drive down to Sampson State Park for the four-day dog show that’s held every year in one of the most gorgeous state parks in New York. And, on this day, weather-wise, we’d lucked out. Picture-perfect, sunny skies, lush green fields sloping down to Seneca Lake. If you are familiar with this venue, you know that the weather is the only dicey element in an otherwise spectacular event. Count on pouring down rain and chilly temperatures for at least one out of the four days. Celebrate when the skies clear, the sun dries the ground and the truly magnificent beauty of the Finger Lakes countryside shakes itself off and takes your breath away.
We settled ourselves down on the ground just in time to watch the tail-end of the competition. One at a time, handlers and their dogs took to the obstacle course as we watched in disbelief. Dobermans, German Shepherds, mixed breeds, Border Collies to name just a few of the dogs that literally flew over bars, under tunnels, through weave poles, scaling ladders and balancing on narrow boards.
Just when I thought I had seen it all, this very pint-sized, Papillion launched itself onto the course. It was all its handler could do to stay ahead of this tiny, mighty superstar. It was a jaw-dropping, flawless performance. Except for one, tiny adjustment that this pint-size dynamo made half-way through its run. Soaring off of the A-frame, this little half-pint, suddenly veered off course and planting herself squarely in front of the judge, she started barking. The spectators tried very hard not to laugh as the handler pulled up short, assessed the situation and fought back a smile. Half-jogging over to her dog, she swooped down, scooped her dog up and tucked it underneath her arm and left the course.
Bar none, this was the funniest disqualification I’d ever seen. And so bittersweet because truly, this dog owned the field.
As my friend and I prepared to leave, I found myself thinking about the lion-heart of that tiny dog. One day, perhaps, I might have a dog just like that.