I was pleased to see the Jan. 26 Travel section article about the Westminster Kennel Club's dog show. As an officer of the American Bullmastiff Association and a longtime enthusiast of that breed, however, I have to take issue with the characterization of the "190-pound bull mastiff [taking] a cat nap in a cage fit for a gorilla." The American Kennel Club standard of perfection for the breed says that bull mastiffs should weigh between 100 and 130 pounds -- and although many males in the show ring these days are larger than that, a 190-pound bull mastiff would be an extreme exception and probably not fit for showing, particularly not at Westminster.

While quibbling over 50 or 60 pounds on a large dog may seem petty, it's an important distinction. The bull mastiff is not as large as the mastiff, one of its parent breeds. Mastiffs may well be heavier than 200 pounds, but bull mastiffs seldom weigh more than 150 pounds. Many uninformed observers equate a large dog with an aggressive or scary dog. Those who know the bull mastiff know that even the largest ones have hearts of gold and use their weight safely and wisely.

-- Chris Rasmussen