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Ticket Takings: Cute dogs and politics, the real choice

February 14, 2008 |  3:24 am

For the last couple of days many thousands of readers on have flocked to the compelling story that emerged from the 132d Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden the other night.

It seems that some dog there, Uno by name and beagle by breed, came charging from out of nowhere to overcome all kinds of odds and a century of dog-judging tradition to claim the grand prizeDog_jtjqx9nc of Best in Show. He beat out the beautiful malamute and those prancy dogs and the ones that can't see through their own hair and the ugly boxers who drool.

Out of more than 2,000 dogs assembled there, all primped, pruned and powdered, Uno was Numero Uno in the whole building.

It was as if Snoopy from everyone's childhood had finally gained respect. And who doesn't love Snoopy, even though, c'mon, he's got to be slightly insane to think he's battling the Red Baron all the time?

And as if Uno knew what he'd just pulled off, he was high-fouring his trainer and celebrating as only Uno knows how, by baying away like the moon was right over Manhattan's 34th Street. And the emotional crowd, dog-lovers all, God bless them, gave the lowly beagle a standing ovation, whistling and shouting for him, and some people wiped away tears.

And folks watching on televisions across the country smiled and cried and clapped too. He's a real cute dog, unless you're trying to sleep.

Anyway, for some inexplicable reason that Uno story has been the most-read thing on this website and the most-e-mailed and talked about. While at the same time only a fraction of those readers have also visited this politics blog.

Now, it's a free country. People can read whatever they like. But it should be profoundly distressing to the entire American nation that at a time of international terrorism and economic threat as the United States goes through the divisive process of picking a new president, days later thousands of people are still clicking on an uplifting story about a goofy-looking dog coming from behind to win and not patronizing an excruciatingly well-written collection of some 1,300 political tidbits.

And then those same grinningDog_jw5p3qnc people also click through, one after another, an entire online photo gallery of 120 photos of Uno with his little pink tongue and his fancied-up fellow competitors. What has America come to?

These web browsers would rather look at a dog with big ears than delve into the intricacies of competing national political campaigns and where and how their campaigns and policies conflict and cross.

But Top of the Ticket readers should know that just because countless thousands want to look at a distant dog more than our political items, we are determined not to stoop to any kind of cheap journalistic tricks to draw an audience. We are not that kind of blog. We earn our page views with information.

We're sticking with our assigned mission as political writers. And like politicians, we promise not to pander to dog-lovers at this crucial time in U.S. history. Politics is far too important to the country for furry animals to become a distraction.

So click the next line to get this morning's Ticket Takings:

This is Valentine's Day and no such occasion for sugar-highs is official without a political trick.

So the funny folks over at the Republican National Committee put together six different online political Valentine's cards you can send to friends making fun of Democrats.

One with Hillary Clinton's picture says, "Roses are red, Violets are blue, I'll raise your taxes, And there's nothing you can do."

There's also several with Barack Obama's photo: "Would you be my Valentine--yes, no, present."

In the spirit of the holiday honoring love, the Democratic National Committee posted a video of John McCain speaking over the years about the Iraq war, saying that Americans were lead to believe it would be a day at the beach.

An apple named Arnold? Looks like it. Our colleague Mary Forgione ovCat_drdi5igy_2er at the Daily Travel & Deal Blog reveals this morning that our Governator has officially loaned half of his name to a new species of apple -- the Arnold power apples -- which are only grown and sold in his home Austrian province of Styria.

They're a cross between a golden delicious and a Jonathan, must be a certain size (we'd guess large) and some of the proceeds go to his favorite cause, the Special Olympics.

RUMOR OF THE DAY: Sean Carman at his 23/6 blog has what could be an exclusive on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He reports that since she's suffered eight straight primary losses to Obama and so many Clinton staffers have been changed in recent days, Clinton has also decided to change the candidate too, to provide a new version of Hillary Clinton, who'll be free of such nagging baggage as negative ratings and her Iraq war vote. Makes political sense.

Finally, a compelling story about David Gilbert, who's not a politician. He's a 26-year-old former child prodigy who recently revealed a story about a Christmas incident. He had just finished a performance in London. As always, he carefully put away his nearly 300-year-old Stradivarius violin. He takes very good care of the priceless instrument because there are only 650 of them remaining in existence made by Antonio Stradivari in the early 1700s.

After his performance the violinist was actually sneaking from the concert early to dine with family. Gilbert was hastening down the hall's back stairs. He slipped. He flipped. And he landed on his violin case, crushing that baby into numerous pieces. So if you think you're having a bad day, put D.G. in your thoughts.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photos: Associated Press / Getty Images / Los Angeles Times