Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks for Ugly Dog

I'll admit it; I enjoy watching the Purina National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day. It has become almost as much of a tradition as checking out the last few minutes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch the most recent incarnation of Santa Claus start the holiday shopping season.

There is just something oddly regal about the dog show on network television. This morning J. Peterman... er... John O'Hurley will once again host the Philadelphia Kennel Club's dog show. In between the well-bread Spaniels and Toy Poodles, I suspect I will once again be reminded of, as I am annually, Thanksgiving 2005, when I first read of the passing of a legendary canine competitor named Sam.
Sam  passed away in November 2005.
So it is on this Thanksgiving morning in 2012, that I take a moment to go back and reread the article that first caught my eye as I signed onto Yahoo and came across the image to the left accompanied by the headline "World's Ugliest Dog Dies at 14". This was the story of Sam, an award winning pedigreed Chinese crested who had reached something of a celebrity status in the world of "ugly dog contests."

Lately I've been thinking about my own dog Gracie, who works with me in the back yard during fall clean-up, lays with me when I read, or whines (occasionally) when I leave, and how much she means to my family and I. She and I have been at this for almost nine years now, though most days the time has physically only passed for me.

Like Sam the Ugly Dog, Gracie can sometimes be what I affectionately call a "knucklehead." But I'll be darned if she isn't consistently forgiving of my family's (as well as my own) foibles and screw-ups. I freely acknowledge (with little need for confirmation, thank you) that I am a knucklehead sometimes many times, too. On his passing, Susie Lockheed, Sam's owner, noted that "I don't think there'll ever be another Sam. Some people would think that's a good thing." Not me, and how unfortunate for those who miss the part of what makes Sam a distinctly human symbol.

The memory, or idea, of Ugly Dog continues to stay with me even year later, as a bygone representation of my own knuckleheadedness, especially in, on occasion, judging things or people by their superficial traits. That knee-jerk reposes to new and strange "things" is inside you, too, I'd reckon. But, just like our incredibly, great nation that will once and a while take a misstep regardless of what your political affiliation is, we can always return to our balancing point by self-correcting and making whole that which we have diminished.

I never even realized that Sam the Ugly Dog was even "there" until he passed, but, as I embrace and struggle with my own inner Ugly Dog, I feel a slight bit less for his having passed. On Thanksgiving, I try to show gratutiude for all I have receievd by doing my best not dismiss those other Ugly Dogs out there whose beauty is only waiting to be seen, when I choose to allow it to be revealed to me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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