"This is it," I said to my wife as she applied the shampoo to our dog’s shiny black coat. "Finally, a blue ribbon for the family."
      "It won’t be your blue ribbon," she replied. "It will be Lucy’s. And there’s no guarantee she will win it."
      She was referring to our 14 year old pug, who was about to enter her first dog show, a bi-annual Easter event held at a golf club we recently joined in Borrego Springs, a small town in the Southern California desert.
      I looked at Lucy, whose oversized tongue was drooping out of her gray-lined mouth. Her eyes were filmy, she was deaf, and she was comfortably fat. She was a lock for "Best in Show," but we had decided her good looks were too intimidating for the other entrants, so we had decided to enter her in the costume category.
      And what a costume! My 29 year old daughter came up with a blue-ribbon winning idea---a cutout of a yellow sun that wrapped around Lucy’s neck, along with a copy of the local newspaper, the Borrego Sun, hanging from her chin.
      Any knucklehead would get it. The local newspaper was the Borrego Sun, and Lucy was the Borrego Sun. Brilliant.
     Lucy, who goes along with just about anything these days, wore it proudly. I’m not even sure she was aware she had it on.
     Her only competition, we thought, was my son’s dog, Obie, a 3 year old German Shepherd whom my daughter had costumed as the Mayor of Borrego, with a shirt, tie, fedora and the ability to stop and shake hands with his constituents.
     Lucy had no tricks, other than sticking out her tongue and snoring. But she looked so damn good in her sun costume, she wouldn’t need any tricks or gadgets. The blue ribbon was hers to lose.
     I was nervous when we got to the competition and found there would be seven entries in the costume category. I looked over at the judges. There were five of them, and since we were relative rookies at the club, I didn’t know any of them.
     The costume category was the first to show. Obie was number five, Lucy six. The first four paraded around the oval track, one by one, and I scoffed. Nothing special. A couple of bandanas, a dog dress, and a store-bought American flag sweater or something.
     Then came Obie, whom the Master of Ceremonies called Hobie. My son walked him around. Obie’s hat fell off, he kept tripping on his tie, and he never shook a hand. He was out.
     Finally, it was Lucy’s turn. I proudly watched as my wife walked her around the oval. No pees, no poops, just a regal figure waddling slowly, her sun shining, her tongue sagging, and her rolled newspaper hanging from her chin. There was no way she could lose, even when the MC asked my wife if she could move a little faster.
     The last entrant, number 7, was Fifi, a furball of a dog that couldn’t have weighed more than five pounds. She was wearing a store bought tutu and was absolutely no competition.
     Until, of course, the MC relayed the story of how poor little Fifi survived an attack from coyotes and spent 3 weeks in the hospital fighting for her life, only to miraculously recover and now here she was walking around the oval in her stupid costume (I added the "stupid.")
     I didn’t think the judges would fall for it, but they did. When the winner was announced, sure enough, it was Fifi. The sympathy vote had prevented Lucy from winning her first, and most certainly last, blue ribbon.
     Being the good sport, I took the high road. "I’m quitting the club," I announced to anyone who would listen. "I have never seen such a travesty."
    Obie was looking hungrily at little Fifi as her master graciously accepted the blue ribbon. I was tempted to quietly unleash him, but that definitely would not have been sporting.
     Meanwhile, my wife picked Lucy up in her arms and walked her through the crowd, generating ooh’s and aah’s from all who witnessed her, including a photographer from the Borrego Sun.
     He was only 12 years old, but he had a nice camera. Fifi might have a blue ribbon, but Lucy was going to be a media darling.




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