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Every dog deserves to have his day

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Whoever coined the sentiment that the race does not always go to the swiftest probably feels a little bit smug when NASCAR brings its horsepower to restrictor plate tracks such as Daytona and Talladega.

There may be a clear favorite or frontrunner, and history sometimes does repeat itself. But it is virtually impossible in the beginning to guess who, in the end, will be the winner.

The opening race of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season on Feb. 17 was a prime example. Few prognosticators predicted that Ryan Newman would win his first Daytona 500 that day, but that’s exactly what happened.

This principle is not specific to NASCAR. A few days earlier and a few dozen degrees colder, another type of underdog made a statement of his own when a beagle was declared Best in Show by the Westminster Kennel Club for the first time in the competition’s history.

Most of the official oddsmakers probably didn’t see that coming, as the hound is not one of the more glamorous breeds. But on that day, beagles were the best.

There are plenty of obvious jokes to be made here, like how the week of Feb. 12 was virtually a dog and pony show and how there were many hot dogs but only one top dog.

While the Westminster Dog Show and the Daytona 500 may seem on the surface to have absolutely nothing in common, there are actually a number of parallels to be drawn.

Both events are at the very pinnacle of their genres. Each incorporates preliminary levels of qualification prior to the main event. Both feature a wide variety of competitors with an array of different attributes but one common goal.

They all want to win. The desire is fierce and manifests itself in many unique ways.

There are those who live for the hunt. While generally not large in size, they are brave and tough, with lively, energetic personalities. They are intensely enthusiastic but can sometimes be on the rambunctious side, requiring an owner with a firm hand.

As you can see, this almost perfectly describes Kyle Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlineeand rat terriers.

Others, while generally friendly and gregarious, are known to be fiercely loyal and passionately committed to their tasks. Efforts have been made to work their aggression out, but they are prone to flashes of willfulness.

Competitors fitting this category include Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvickeeand bulldogs.

Strikingly sleek and athletic, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson personify the face of contemporary racing. They are pack-oriented and work well in groups. They are extremely friendly toward strangers and popular with children. They are among the fastest creatures on earth. Interestingly, this description also applies to greyhounds.

Top 10 lists may vary, but one name is invariably at the top of each and every one as the most popular.

Characterized by affability, intelligence and boundless energy, appreciation and praise always elicit a positive response from this list-topper. He can be somewhat boisterous, but is considered one of the most dependable in his class. He, of course, is Dale Earnhardt Jree.and the Labrador retriever.

The beagle also makes all the top 10 lists, but he is usually somewhere near the middle of the pack. Beagles are known for being low-key. In fact, the most famous beagle in history—Snoopy—played sidekick to Charlie Brown’s superstar status.

The secret to the beagle’s popularity lies in his dependability. He may not be the most flamboyant, but he always tries his hardest and accepts the outcome, whatever it may be, with equanimity and an even temper. While he may not spend a lot of time jumping up and down like some of his livelier companions, he is always fun to watch.

Since he won the Daytona 500, some have criticized Ryan Newman for not seeming excited enough about the win. But I can guarantee you, for one day at least, Newman was the happiest guy in the country.

Excitement doesn’t always have to equal excitability, and just because Newman doesn’t express his feelings more doesn’t mean he feels them any less.

He simply got to work, got down to business and got the job done—quietly. The fact that he chose to enjoy his fireworks after the race instead of during it didn’t make them any less spectacular.

Every dog deserves to have his day. Even Snoopy, remember, had the chance to kick the Red Baron in the rear spoiler every now and again.

Cathy Elliott is the former public relations of Darlington Raceway. She currently lives in Florence, SC. Contact her at cathyelliott@hotmail.com.