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By Monica Hesse for The Washington Post

Scene: the Mattaponi Kennel Club dog show in Manassas.

Enter the purebreds: the buttery yellow Labradors and the lusciously springy spaniels, and the sly border collies, whose owners plaster their cars with bumper stickers reading “My Border Collie is smarter than your honor student.” Enter the sleek viszlas and the aloof Belgian Malinois, a whole team of them, with show names like Tri Sort’s Closer to the Heart.

Enter Otis.

Otis is eating a cow hoof. When he is finished, he might beg his owner, with low gentle moans, for a piece of string cheese — Otis will do anything for string cheese — or he might lick his rear end. Otis is brown(ish) and fluffy(ish) and weighs about 65 pounds. Otis is the result of an illicit tryst between a purebred husky and a rakish Lab-chow neighbor dog.

Mutt lovers, rise. It is a historic spring for all of your shelter dogs, mixes, halfsies and whatsits.

For the first time in the 125-year history of the American Kennel Club — the venerable organization whose mission is to “advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs” — mutts are being allowed to compete alongside the champion bloodlines.

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