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Our Top Dogs

He appeared one evening at the gate to our farmyard. An incredibly skinny, rough-coated black dog, wagging his tail and begging for a home. We did not need another dog. We already owned five, and all had arrived the same way. But he was hungry, and how does one ignore that? He was soon fed, treated for mange and became ours. King, as we called him, became the newest addition to our motley crew of canines. I had said that I would not keep another stray, but how does one turn away a starving animal? Ultimately, I know that history will repeat itself and some day another will appear. So much for choosing our own

dogs! They have come in all sizes and breeds and more often than not they are mongrels. Not exactly what I had planned; to be imposed upon by stray dogs.

I had always wanted a dog with a pedigree. Watching the Westminster Dog Show faithfully every year, I envy the owners of the magnificent breeds, whose lineage can be traced back for centuries. Those well-bred, perfectly groomed dogs are so unlike ours, who spend their lives outdoors and get no grooming treatments, except for tick and flea control. The closest thing to a shampoo that ours get is a swim in the lake or dugout. Where those top dogs have trainers and are obedient, ours usually come with bad habits ingrained in them and I am at a loss to correct.

King is now a large, healthy canine. He will sit on command if I have a treat for him and sometimes he listens when he feels like it. His saving characteristic however, is his loyalty. He loves attention and one can see the adoration in his eyes as he begs to be patted and hugged. He always responds with a guttural noise – talking, as his tail joins in the greeting.

Show dogs come with a big price tag, but ours are free. They didn’t cost a penny, but they have carved their place in our hearts and thus become priceless. When it comes to loyalty and affection our mutts are top of the line. I have gradually become resigned to the fact that I will not be choosing our next dog. After all, where would the element of surprise be in choosing our own? So I look forward to the next stray which will show up unannounced at our gate. He (or she) just might be a purebred!

– Joanne Rawluk writes from Gypsumville, Manitoba

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