The first time I saw him, I was simply awed. He stood with his head held high, his tail a flowing plume raised gracefully over his back. It was as though he knew he was royalty, and was filled with a pride and grace that one could only admire. When he came to you, it was with a slow and measured tread, as though walking down a red carpet to bestow blessings upon the townspeople.
He tried to be a good pet, but he was raised and groomed for showing, and always seemed a little confused about his new surroundings with us. Where were the people who gave him so much attention? The people who were in and out, several times a day, brushing, and examining, and discussing him? He was ready for the show -- where was the show?
But the show was never to be. Paladin, the most beautiful dog in the world, had something not quite right about his jaw. I never saw it, nor could ever tell what it was that destroyed his show dog career before it started, but whatever it was, it was enough to forever disqualify him.
Paladin wandered through life, still proudly holding his head high, until he finally developed such a crazed and violent personality that he had to be put down. It seemed that the puppy who had so much promise had been cast aside, and that this had somehow broken him. I don't think he ever knew what he had done wrong to be shut out of the show scene, but I think he always, to some extent, wondered.
I wish I could have spoken Doggish. I would have told him how beautiful he was over and over until he believed it. And maybe ... just maybe ... he would still be standing tall with the rest of the family.
Sometimes, when I think of Paladin, I despise the show dog industry and everything it represents.