(Note: My thanks to the folks at Lucasfilm LTD for their kind permission allowing me to use the image of Salacious B. Crumb in this posting.)
Reel or Real?
It was long, long ago (about 1990) in a place far, far away (somewhere east of Tampa, Florida) that I first saw the creature. The memory of it haunts me to this day. I was waiting in the car outside a Blockbuster video store as my son and his father were scouring the racks for some male-bonding buddy films—martial arts and such. (What chance did I have against all those testosterone-raising action flicks?)
Anyway, as I sat there I glanced out the window at the pick-up parked beside me. Suddenly this—Oh, how shall I describe it?—unearthly little critter appeared at the truck’s window and stared back at me. I blinked hard; surely I was imagining things. But, no, it was there, for real. What resembled a scrawny rat in a really bad fright wig, I learned later, was a Chinese Crested . . . er, Dog. That’s right. An actual breed of dog officially recognized by the American Kennel Club! (I’m beginning to wonder about that organization.)
Since that first harrowing incident outside Blockbuster I’ve seen lots of Chinese Crested Dogs, or CCDs. They seem to be gaining popularity. Every time I see one, though, I can’t help recalling “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.” Remember the scene where Princess Leia, clad in a harem costume, is chained to a giant slug, intergalactic crime boss Jabba the Hutt? Next to Jabba is his court jester/toady Salacious B. Crumb.* This grotesque little freak bears an uncanny resemblance to the CCD—wedge-shaped head, pointy snout, beady eyes, fringed bat-like ears, and scraggly topknot. Is it any wonder the CCD or mixtures of him win all those “ugliest dog” contests? I don’t think so. (I will admit, though, I’ve always thought Jabba would be a great name for an English Bulldog—another charisma-challenged breed.)
Salacious B. Crumb Chinese Crested Dog
Question: Were these two separated at birth? Or, more disturbingly, could the CCD be the evil spawn of Salacious B. Crumb and some wayward space trollop? I find this pretty unnerving.
So I did some research and learned, among other things, that the CCD has several aliases including, simply, the Crested, the Chinese Hairless, the Chinese Ship Dog, the Chinese Royal Hairless, the Treasure House Guardian, as well as the Puff, or Powder Puff. **
Food for Thought
It’s believed the CCD is descended from the African Hairless Terrier, brought on board by Chinese mariners centuries ago to control vermin (you know, rats) on their ships. By the way, another name for this breed is the Chinese Edible Dog. (Considering the CCD’s sea-faring, vermin-controlling history, do you know of any community organizer/politician who’d want to eat this dog?! Maybe-e-e-e . . . As the saying goes, one man’s meat . . . Well, just pass the A-1 Sauce—lots of it!)
Despite this background the CCD is said to be polite, clean, relatively quiet, and lovable. (Huh? By this they mean it’s so ugly it’s cute, I suppose.) It’s also hypoallergenic and will hug you by putting its paws around your neck. Aw-w-w-w. (Ew-w-w-w!) Reportedly, the CCD even smiles, although I read on a greeting card once never to trust a smiling dog, but that probably was a metaphor for untrustworthy humans.
Punk CCD Ugliest Dog Winner?
(You just can’t pretty these up, folks.)
Still, the Chinese Crested Dog has its drawbacks (aside from its looks): He needs sunscreen when outdoors. (Note the liver spots in two of the photos above—must have forgotten the sunscreen.) Indoors, oils and creams are necessary to moisturize his delicate skin and prevent dryness. He’s also prone to overeating and obesity. Of course, all dogs have some kind of genetic shortcoming of health or personality, the inevitable result of meddlesome over-breeding. But why take on the patently obvious?
As for Salacious B. Crumb: Admittedly, pointing out his good qualities is a bit of a challenge. He does have the distinction, however, of having rubbed elbows with George Lucas, in my book a first-rate recommendation when it comes to bragging rights. Too, as a court jester he might be good for a few laughs. You can choose to watch him in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” or buy a facsimile of him on-line. Either way, at least you won’t have to worry about his freaking you out from the cab of a pick-up truck.
©2012 The Wit’s End Scribbler
*The names the “Star Wars” creators come up with for their characters have to be the most intriguing ones in film.
** The Powder Puff is the hairy version of the CCD, an improvement on looks, it’s true, but a little too saccharin-sounding for my taste.
Photos of Chinese Crested Dogs: bigstockphoto.com