Best in Show

My wife and I are geeky enough to watch dog shows on Animal Planet. Go ahead and pass judgment, but if last month’s Westminster winner, Stump the Sussex Spaniel, didn’t charm you on some basic level, I’m not sure that we can be friends. 


It seems like many of the handlers at dog shows are Latino. Certainly many more of them are Hispanic than black or Asian. For me to even notice this means that it’s, well… noticeable.

I’m not sure why Latino handlers are so ubiquitous. I’d like to think that it’s because Hispanics have a strong bond to the animal kingdom and a healthy respect for nature. That’s nice to think, especially as I hear about dogs running wild in the streets of Latin America and the Amazonian rainforest being slashed and burned.

Certainly, it’s not a cultural thing. I can’t imagine a less likely goal for a kid growing up in the barrio than to hope that someday he can escort a Pomeranian in Madison Square Garden.

My best guess is that this oddly specific “sport” is for all those Hispanics with a competitive streak who aren’t interested in baseball. There are few other sporting outlets for us, after all.

For the most part, we’re not big enough for football or tall enough for basketball. And as for hockey… well, let’s just say that ice-focused endeavors face an uphill climb in Latino culture. Soccer is big in Latin America, of course, but in the United States it appears to be the strict dominion of pre-adolescent suburban girls.

So if you’re a Latino who can’t hit the slider, but still want to win at something, it seems to come down to golf, tennis, or dog shows. I’m not sure which of those I would pick, but I understand the appeal of the latter. There’s no sweat involved, and your teammate will always have your back.



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March 2009
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