COMMENT on the unusual appearance of Patty Owens' tiny, naked little dog and Patty will give you a questioning look.
She's so accustomed to his face she doesn't realize that Peanuts, her 4-year-old Chinese crested dog whose only hair is a fluffy pompadour, isn't your everyday run-of-the-mill dog. His looks are unusual to many.
''You know what does make Peanuts so special is that he is a very pretty and a sound little dog,'' she says with a boast.
In 1978 Patty went to a dog show in Toronto with her mother, Ginette Perez, a hairless-dog fancier and breeder from New York. Patty says ''We saw our first Chinese crested and, would you believe it, the dog was displayed in a glass case. Imagine dog under glass. My mother really liked the breed so she ordered one. At that time the cost was probably about $400 or $500 [the cost today can go up to $1,500], and it took two years before she received the puppy. She loved it so much she got another right away, and in 1981 I got my first Chinese crested.''
Peanuts came to her two years ago from her mother. ''At dog shows, although he wins, he doesn't show as well as I would like because he wasn't exposed to the public when he was younger, the way he should have been. He had been with a handler who probably didn't give him as much time as necessary,'' says 34-year-old Patty, a groomer at a local pet shop.
She lives in Hamilton with her husband, Brian, and 4-year-old daughter, Michele.
Chinese crested breed information is sketchy. It is from China and was considered practically extinct there by the 1960s. A specimen was exhibited in 1902 in Chicago and in Britain in 1880. One account of the breed notes that in 1966, an elderly woman named Ruth Harris owned about six, the only Chinese cresteds in the United States.
The Mexican Hairless and the Xoloitzcuintli, called the Shollo, are believed to be related to the Chinese crested. There was no breed reference of any relation to the Chihuahua.
Last April 1, the Chinese crested was accepted to the registry of the American Kennel Club.
Acceptance by the AKC means that there are at least 500 of the breed in this country, that there is a breed club, that the dog has a five- to 10-year history and its club has established a standard size, color and shape for it.
A Chinese crested is not for everyone. Many do not like a hairless dog. However, they have an outstanding temperament and are good with every age. Owens says they make a good pet and a good show dog.
They are clean, odorless and neat, and Owens says that one would walk up three flights of stairs just to relieve itself on paper put down for that purpose. When you hold one, its little paws will grip like a hand.
Peanuts, whose official name is Dar-Walk's Szechuan of Gipez, is a winner. At the Baltimore County Kennel Club show this spring, he won "winners dog" and best of breed and came in second in his group, the Toy group.
This month he will compete in Sacramento, Calif., in the first AKC-sanctioned National Chinese Crested Special.
At home, Peanuts plays with Michele and loves his family. He is a pretty little fellow with a pretty devoted owner.