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Despite the raw meat and drool, Rolex is one to watch

T.J. SIMERS

The 3-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux is waiting his turn to compete in the Westminster Dog Show.

February 10, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

FROM NEW YORK — Caught a glimpse of Patty Hearst at the Westminster Dog Show but didn't know exactly what to say.

"So how's your dog? Oh, and did you ever think 35 years ago this week after being kidnapped you'd be here one day showing a Symbionese?"

Also ran into Uno, the Best in Show last year, the stuffed-looking beagle touring ever since -- adorable and lovable as officials here insist on saying, but taken aback when someone from L.A. breaks the PR spell and asks if the hound has snapped at anyone.

"He's an alpha dog," growls the television voice of Westminster, David Frei, as though it's all right to snap, somewhere out there maybe an adorable and lovable youngster now with only nine fingers.

Lincoln, a nasty little grunt known as a Brussels griffon, is the favorite to win this year's Best in Show, so no telling how many little fingers we're going to lose in the next year.

As for the Uno love affair here, it sounds too good to be true. A-Rod admits to using performance-enhancing drugs, so who is to say we won't hear from Uno next?

Tough duty here, as you might imagine, but the response back home has been overwhelming now that Page 2 has gone to the dogs.

"You finally found a sport within his competency," writes Samuel F. Rindge. "Please have him travel the world and write on nothing but doggie shows."

Wouldn't be surprised to hear the McCourts want to sponsor such travels, only one more day here, and then it could be time to follow the Dodgers as they begin crate training. Ah, spring training.

Today, though, belongs to Rolex, the slobbering Dogue de Bordeaux, who considers roadkill an inviting snack.

"They have waiting lists for those who would like to come and pick it up," says Chelsea Conway, the beast's owner, and maybe something good can still come out of all those horses who fail to make it to the finish line at Santa Anita.

Had Westminster given it more thought, though, it might have scheduled Rolex's showing for Monday rather than today, giving him an up-close and personal visit with the PETA folks dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits outside the Garden.

"Like the Klan . . . we like the way the AKC thinks," read the sarcastic pamphlet being passed out by the white-sheet-covered PETA folks. "At the KKK, we advocate the idea of a master race."

Talk about roadkill or turning folks white, it would have been interesting to hear Rolex's retort.

"I have only heard him bark three times in his life," says Conway, from Murrieta and UCLA. "It definitely puts you on your butt."

Rolex, a cross between a walrus and lion, is staying in Room 1212 at the Affinia on Seventh Avenue, and as good as anything going on here, it couldn't possibly be as interesting as the look on the face of the maid the first time she walks in.

"I was able to wash most of the blood out of the hotel towels in the tub," explains Conway. "His bowl was too big for the plane, so we put the raw meat on the towel for him to eat. What a mess; I didn't want the maid to think he'd eaten a little child.

"He'd never do anything like that. He looks intimidating, and there might be a little drool on the ceiling, and maybe even some bone splinters here and there, but he's really a big scaredy cat."

Sounds like a guy I know who played second base for the Dodgers. There were times, I know, when I could've used a drool rag.

As if there's not enough going on, Rolex is also an expectant father with two pups due any moment back home in California -- each selling for $10,000. But for some reason Conway appears more nervous than Rolex.

"That's what pays for this little hobby," she says, $5,000 going to the handler who will show Rolex today while he competes against 14 look-alikes.

One of his competitors is also a guard dog trained to attack people, says someone who is in the know here, so it could be very entertaining when the judge, as the rules state, starts feeling up the attack dog.

It's just one big subjective beauty show here, the cheating as rampant as in baseball, no foreign substances allowed, but one woman painting a larger black nose on her Patton/Target/Spuds-like white bull terrier after coating him in white powder.

Hair spray is everywhere, many of the poodles also getting a touch of mascara and makeup, while a pinch of Vicks or vanilla is applied under the nose of males in an effort to keep them focused around females in season. Who says NBA players couldn't learn some new tricks?

As for Rolex, right now he's devouring what's left of a lovely lamb, I'm sure, bones and all. He also gets a salmon and then Conway throws down a glob of tripe -- the ground stomach intestines of a cow, and as disgusting as it sounds.

"His absolute favorite, but there's a stench to it like you've never smelled," Conway says, the window in 1212 open in these subfreezing temperatures 24 hours a day because that's also the way the dog likes it.

It's oven-like Monday in the Garden, a bad sign looking ahead to today with Rolex scheduled to arrive at 5 a.m. to mingle with 1,000 dogs, while also required to stay until at least 8 p.m. Where's PETA when you really need the wackos?

"We have ice packs for his cage, a fan and he will wear a frozen cape," says Conway, who was searing steak, "so the handler who takes Rolex into the ring can use it as bait. Otherwise, it will be all wet and bloody in her pocket."

Bait! Wonder if the Dodgers ever gave that a thought?

Can't wait to find out.

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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