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ST PETER — There’s a story behind each of the 130 breeds of dog competing at this weekend’s Key City Kennel Club Dog Show in St. Peter.
Consider Boon, a Norwegian lundehund who competed Saturday with owner Kathy Votca of Mankato.
The rare breed has six toes (most dogs have four) and is unusually flexible. His legs can be lifted to the side so they’re parallel with the ground, as Votca demonstrated.
“Like Gumby, almost,” she says.
A lundehund’s head can be bent backward so that the top of its head is touching its back, though Votca didn’t try to demonstrate that feat.
They were bred to be flexible and polydactyl (that means multi-toed”), Votca explains, to climb steep paths along Norwegian cliffs to hunt for birds called puffins.
Like many of the dogs here, Boon no longer fulfills the purpose for which his ancestors were originally bred.
“He spends most of his time walking on the back of furniture” rather than the floor, she says.
Boon, whose registered name is Neocles Alexander, was the only lundehund in the conformation category, where judges choose the dog that best matches the ideal of its breed. Lundehunds only recently started competing at American Kennel Club dog shows and the breed is moving toward full recognition by the AKC.