For those who know the world of dog competitions mainly through the 2000 comedy film “Best in Show,’’ it’s all too easy to dismiss the humans in this world as obsessive fussbudgets who’ve lost track of the bigger picture. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show surely hasn’t dispelled that image with its decision to part ways with its former sponsor, Pedigree, over the pet food brand’s ads urging viewers to adopt shelter dogs.
Those Pedigree ads were powerful, featuring noble-looking canines and a somber voice-over urging viewers to adopt shelter dogs, not pity them. This was too much of a downer for the kennel club. “Show me an ad with a dog with a smile,’’ a kennel club spokesman told the Associated Press. “Don’t try to shame me.’’ Sure enough, the ads on this week’s broadcast, from competitor Purina, have been far more upbeat.
The kennel club is free to accept whichever sponsors it chooses. But a dog show - one billed, no less, as a celebration of dogs - is the best possible forum to urge the adoption of shelter animals. Instead, the kennel club’s stance only highlights the disconnect between the plight of millions of mutts and the bizarrely cosseted existence of canine 1 percenters.