Chalk one up for us rednecks.
Earlier this month at the Westminster Kennel Club show - that's the annual hoity-toity gathering at Madison Square Garden of dog devotees - Uno, a beagle, won the show's top prize: Best in Show.
Imagine that: An event known for primped poodles, coiffed corgis and manicured malteses is won by everydog - a beagle.
Beagles hold a special place in my heart. Growing up, I watched my grandfather raise the hounds from puppies to adults. Boww would pick one pup from every litter and name it after his grandson using one of my grandfather-given nicknames. There was Jake. There was Buck. And countless others.
Many of my memories of Boww are wrapped in brown, white and black splotches of fur. We'd hunt everything with those dogs, and laugh at the ones that would swim behind our boat as we fished in Boww's farm ponds in Greene County. The dogs were always part of his life, gathering around the barn to wait for scraps when he'd set to cleaning deer or whatever the game of choice was that day. And they'd lounge in the sun around his chair as he listened to the Braves game blasting from the speakers of his old old Ford pickup.
In the years since Boww died, his pack of pups around the farm has dwindled to a lone stray - and it isn't even a beagle. So when I saw that a beagle might be in the running at Westminster, I was thrilled. Admittedly, I didn't watch the show - I'm sure I was watching something more culturally relevant with my wife, like Flavor of Love Season III or Rock of Love. But I did see the result, floppy ears and all.
The last time a hunting dog took the Westminster title was in 2005, when they selected a pointer - you know, a bird dog.
But he wasn't a beagle - a bellowing, barking, baying beagle.
In 100 Best of Show selections, the mantle had never gone to a beagle.
Until Uno. By the way, Uno's real name is K-Run's Park Me in First. But that ain't fitting for a beagle, so I ain't using it.
More than 2,600 entries representing nearly 170 breeds and varieties participated in this year's Westminster show.
In the end, it was a beagle left standing - and bellowing.
And in heaven, Boww smiled. I just know it.
Next week marks the Leap Year and The Mirror is doing something a little special to celebrate. In what we call a deal that only comes around once every four years, we're giving subscribers a special deal. If you stop by the office and buy a two-year or four-subscription, you'll get it for half price. (You can call in if you pay by credit card.)
It's our little way of thanking everyone for their support in the last five years.