In 1967, Dad (aka Mike Royko) and his Chicago Daily News held a mongrel dog show at Soldier Field. I was 8 years old at the time, and remember it being a blast. Recently I started transferring old VHS tapes to digital, including a tape of 8mm movies my late mom took in the 1960s that I had had transferred to VHS 25 years ago, and that's where this brief video clip turned up. Not HQ by any stretch, no close-ups, mainly long shots from her seat, though there is a little bit down at ground level, including a couple of seconds of me waving at Dad through the fence. This coming September, it will be 50 years since this took place. I don't know of any other surviving film or video footage, but there might be some in a network archive somewhere, or the Museum of Broadcast History(?).
Through Google, you can find a few more things about it (such as Dick Ciconne's and Doug Moe's biographies of Dad, for example) and I'm pasting the almost-50-year-old Chicago Daily News column below. So, enjoy this little bit of Chicago history.
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Click here for the YouTube video clip of the...
Mike Royko 1967 Mongrel Dog Show
Mike Royko's Mongrel Dog Show
Chicago Daily News
Someone ought to sponsor a new kind of dog show. Maybe I’ll do it myself. Better yet, the Daily News will do it. That ought to surprise some of the editors.
The obvious need for a new form of dog competition occurred to me after I read accounts of the International Dog Show held here over the weekend.
It sounded like a good show, but it was just like most of the others. The dogs were purebred aristocrats with names like Merry Rover of Valley Run, Molley Haven Sugar and Gala Cairns Redstar.
To get into the show, the dogs’ owners must submit proof of ancestry.
(The dog’s ancestry, I mean. The owners don’t have to prove anything about their own.)
These shows are fine and some of the dogs may even enjoy themselves, but my dog show would be just as interesting and even more exciting.
It would be open only to mixed-breed mutts, and the more mixed the better.
Instead of Merry Rover of Valley Run, we’d have Spot of Armitage Avenue.
Any dog that doesn’t look like three different breeds couldn‘t get in. There even would be a special award for the dog who is so mixed that he looks like a goat or something.
Dogs would not be judged solely on the basis of their muttiness, although it would be of great importance in the winning of points. A dog whose legs were of uneven length and thus walked in a circle would naturally have a scoring advantage over a dog who walked sideways.
There would be obedience trials, work dog competition, sporting dog tests and such things. But our competition would be more meaningful than that of the purebred dog shows. They have competition for sheepdogs, and how many people in Chicago have sheep?
Our standards of obedience and performance would be up-to-date. Some of the possible categories follow:
Sporting Dogs: This would be open to the greatest modern sporting dog of them all—the dog that runs on the field during a football game. Six judges, dressed like football officials, would chase each entrant around the judging area. The dog that survived longest would be the champion. The judge who survived longest would get to kick the dog that survived longest.
Work Dogs: Entries in this field would be the noblest of all the modern work dogs—the tavern dog.
They would be judged for fierceness of gaze, loudness of bark, lightness of sleep and quickness of bite.
Any tavern dog that did not try to bite a judge would be disqualified. Extra points would be given to tavern dogs that try to bite the other tavern dogs. Bonus points would go to all dogs that bite their owners.
Nonworking dogs: Eligible for this award would be all house or backyard dogs.
They will be awarded points for their ability to withstand ear-pulling, tail-twisting and rib-tickling by children without biting them. The dog that takes the most without going mad would receive an award. Children who are bitten would receive first aid, a citation and a good lesson.
Points also would be awarded to house dogs for their willingness to eat leftovers, including peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich crusts, cold pizza, tuna-fish salad, cottage cheese and Sugar Pops. What‘s good enough for me is good enough for them.
Obedience: All dogs will be expected to respond to the following commands:
Lie down, speak, shut-up, get off the couch, get off the bed, get on the porch, get in the yard, get in the house, get in the kitchen, get out of here and get.
Finally, there will be a special award, a trophy known as the Royko Cup.
It will go to the dog who demonstrates his ability to learn nothing.
He must prove that he barks only at passing airplanes, sleeps through burglaries, howls endlessly when left alone, prefers a new rug to an old fire plug, is affectionate to mice while trying to bite friends and relatives, snores, snarls and snatches food from the table.
Of course, we might have to let in some of those tiny, fuzzy purebred dogs for that one.