I am thinking about the Westminster Dog Show. It is coming up in February. In 2015, two new breeds will be on the roster – a little fru-fru dog from Madagascar called the coton de tulear and a lean, muscular Hungarian hunting dog, the wire-haired vizsla. Just as an aside, I have no particular problem with fru-fru breeds, but judging from the photos of the vizsla, it’s the one I could put my arms around.
For my own entertainment, I am going to imagine that some day the Westminster Dog Show will add the Mexican street dog to its canine line-up. OK, it is not a breed per se. The gene pool has not been manipulated to the extent that all Mexican street dogs look the same – indeed hardly one looks like another – but they have been selected over a long, long time to have certain characteristics that constitute a standard. And that is, by the Westminster Dog Show’s own criteria, what a breed is. To quote: “Each breed’s parent club creates a STANDARD, a written description of the ideal specimen of that breed…[g]enerally relating form to function…”
The form of the Mexican street dog, although wildly variable, always relates to function: survival in a precarious world. I guess that is what some people call a mongrel but what I call a super-breed. The Mexican street dog carries not a pool but an ocean of genes, swirling currents mixing morphological characteristics of terrier, labrador, spaniel, poodle, German shepherd, pit bull, boxer, cattle dog, doberman, dachshund, basenji, beagle, huskie, ridgeback, and, yes, vizsla. I have not yet seen signs of coton de tulear. To show you how broadly a standard can be defined, one of the spokespersons for the newly inducted coton de tulear said, “They’re just very adaptable, and they like everybody.” The same could be said about the Mexican street dog.
So here is my Standard: The Mexican Street Dog is a variably built, tiny to large dog possessing a sound conformation if given vaccinations, appropriate neutering, enough to eat, and periodic heartworm, tick, and flea medicine, allowing it to function as a dog who will be loyal, amusing, and a wonderful family companion. Physical features and mental characteristics should denote a dog bred to perform a variety of tasks, as trained by its owner, with perhaps an occasional lapse of stealing food off any surface left unattended. This is a survival mark of the super-breed. The distinguishing characteristics of the Mexican Street Dog are its desire to find a place or home with regular food and companionship, perhaps some work herding cattle, sheep, or children, and a place to nap in the sun. They are invariably intelligent, of good temperament, and know how to run in front of a truck or cross a street or busy highway without being killed. Above all, a Mexican Street Dog must be able to make its way in a precarious world. I guess, having written this description, I am now the founder of the Mexican Street Dog Club.