PUPPY LOVE REVIEW | Chicago's most adorable young canines go tail-to-tail in We's contest to determine who's the cutest of the cute
June 1, 2007
BY DOUG ELFMAN Television Critic
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. Puppieeeeeeeeeeeeeeees. If you think your puppy is the most adorable little scamp in town, you've missed your chance to enter it in We's "America's Cutest Puppies" contest. The winner is ... I won't spoil the surprise.
But in Saturday night's Chicago-based episode, three local judges pet and play with scores of local pooches --and get peed on, naturally -- before crowning the city's cutest dog between 4 and 8 months old. The champ goes on to take a bow-wow-wow in dog-eat-dog national finals.
Gary Leibovitz and Spirit, a Golden Retriever (left) appear on the Chicago episode of "America's Cutest Puppies" as well as Budha, a deaf Lab mix.
Every pup is cute, and that's all the show needs to trot along as canine eye candy.
Doggies face three female judges, no males. Dozens and dozens of dogs vie for affection. It's like "The Bachelorette" with actual animals instead of metaphorical beasts.
You can tell a lot about the judges by how they describe their favorite doggy traits. DJ Erin Carman of the Loop (WLUP-FM, 97.9) has a crush on one English bulldog; when she expresses an interest in his self-assurance, it sounds like a dogmatic confession from "Sex and the City."
"I think the attraction to Sweet Bea is the fact that here's this confident dog," Carman says. "We're looking at it like, 'Whoa, this dog has no idea how crazy it looks.' It doesn't care. And that's cute. That's absolutely adorable."
Carman also takes a shine to a pug because it "gave me a few kisses, so, big bonus."
When the pooches don't please them, the judges sound pretty Chicago-y. They're hard-bitten, hard-to-please critics. Charisa Antigua, a fashion designer, grumbles, "I don't like dumb dogs." She's looking for a cutie who's sweet, loving, kind and gentle yet playful.
"He wasn't playing with his toys," Antigua says of a pup. "So I don't know. He just didn't do it for me."
Ruff comments! The judges' barks are bigger than their bites, though. They all succumb to "awww"ing and take it in stride when a puppy tinkles on them.
It appears these are everyday pets, not super-trained show dogs. Even owners whose dogs lose shake it off. No one gets in a catfight. "America's Cutest Puppies" isn't that kind of best-in-show. In fact, the winning human cries like a big baby at the end.
If the show is any indication, Chicago has a lot of puggles, bulldogs and golden retrievers, plus Boston terriers, Chinese charpiers and chowchows.
Owners named their tail-wagging loved ones Hefner, Dolly, M&M (not Eminem), Budha, Bruzer, Briskett Blues, Bocephus and Miss Gina Marie. One dog wears a tuxedo shirt complemented by a Napoleon hat. Another, a one-piece, yellow chicken suit.
Puppies that make it into the top 10 are hot pooches like Budha, a deaf staff/Lab mix who wins over Carman the way dogs catch all the ladies' eyes: He's attractive and has character.
"He tells a story just by looking at him," Carman says. "And that sounds really stupid, but it's true. You just look at that dog and you get emotional!"
Awwwwwww. Now heel, Carman, heel.