Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I watch dog shows...so I'm well informed

This is from Monday's Best of the Web
(It got my attention because it had the title "Poodles of the World, Unite!":
Of course, John Kerry is an unlikely tribune of hardscrabble-Americans, as Frank acknowledges--though he spends most of his time whining about how mean the Republicans were in caricaturing Kerry as an out-of-touch aristocrat. Among his complaints:
The NRA came up with an image that brilliantly encapsulated the whole thing: an elaborately clipped French poodle in a pink bow and a Kerry-for-president sweater over the slogan "That dog don't hunt."[10]
The pedantic footnote, though, is the best part of the whole article (emphasis his):
[10] In fact, poodles are hunting dogs, bred hundreds of years ago to retrieve ducks from water. Their distinctive clipped coats were designed to aid them in this purpose, keeping the dog's body and joints warm as it splashes about but otherwise leaving it free from encumbrance. See Jill Hunter Pellettieri, "Why Are Poodle Haircuts So Weird?," Slate, February 10, 2004.

Actually, the delightfully named Slate writer says that poodles used to be hunting dogs, back in 16th- and 17th-century Germany. The current stereotype is based in more recent history:
Poodles' haircuts evolved into some of the more ornate and elaborate incarnations we see today when the animals gained popularity in France, particularly in the 18th century under the reign of Louis XVI. Poodles, especially the smaller varieties, were popular with the nobility, who would mold the little dogs' hair into extravagant styles, sometimes mimicking the ornate pompadours that French men and women wore themselves at the time.

Likening Kerry to a poodle, then, doesn't seem all that unfair to poodles. Besides, until 40 years or so ago, most Democrats were hawks. If they can change, why can't dogs? Doesn't Frank believe in evolution?

Yeah, I don't need a "recent history" to know that poodles aren't currently hunting dogs. You could watch any dog show and see that they are not part of the sporting or hunting groups.

(Oh and I like the use of the word "hardscrabble")