Leading article: Spot the mongrel

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The Independent Online

In any other walk of life, Fiona, also known as "Grand Champion Fiacre's First and Foremost", would have a cast-iron case to sue for discrimination. But in the world of walkies, other rules apply.

Fiona, or so her owners hope, will be in contention for best of breed (Dalmatian) at Crufts, which opens later this week. But she carries – oh, the shame of it – an alien gene. Deep in her ancestry – sorry, pedigree – hides a tiny fraction of pointer, and that makes her a bit of a second-class citizen among human dog-people. Other Dalmatians on the other hand, seem to recognise one of their kind.

Fiona's owners defend her minute otherness as a means of expanding the gene pool and making a perilously inbred breed healthier, and they have the great and the good of the Kennel Club on their side. Her detractors shout "mongrel", and they don't mean by that her birthplace in Nevada and her present home in Wales. They mean she's not the real thing.

To which there can really be only one response. If, as Fiona clearly does, she walks like a Dalmatian, barks like a Dalmatian and has spots like a Dalmatian, she probably is a Dalmatian – and a pretty convincing one, too, if her rosettes are anything to go by.