In some ways, the story made a decision much easier for me. No longer would I be tempted to duck out of a family birthday celebration early to catch Westminster Kennel Club's (WKC) 136th Annual Dog Show. Now I would gladly miss it.

Why? The WKC's decision to part ways with longtime sponsor Pedigree. The reason? Because the ad campaign famously highlights and encourages the adoption of shelter dogs in its often sad-eyed—but beautiful—commercials.

"We want people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives," David Frei, the club's director of communications and the host of the show, told The New York Times. Frei felt the Pedigree ads shamed people (a technique I have also criticized) instead of celebrated dogs.

The Pedigree folks see it in a different light, of course. Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare US, the makers of Pedigree, told The New York Times, "They've shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn't really a shared vision."

That the WKC didn't share a vision with rescue organizations is something I have long realized. Where humane societies urge the adoption of homeless dogs of all ages and stripes, sizes and mixes, the WKC encourages the purchase of purebreds from reputable breeders or adoption of purebreds from reputable rescues. Where humane societies rightly celebrate the wonder of all dogs—purebred or pure mix—the WKC dog show celebrates the best of the best: particular, specific, Kennel Club-ordained breeds.

Having the pro-adoption Pedigree ads appear during the show helped me make peace with these discrepancies of "vision." It made me believe that dog lovers of all ages and stripes, sizes and mixes could maybe come together in a shared love of both the dog show world and the rescue world.

While my dog-loving heart will always belong first to those involved in animal welfare and rescue, I always had an affection for the dog show circuit—even as I've always found plenty to criticize about dog shows like Westminster Kennel Club's. I hold them somewhat complicit in the over-breeding of dogs and even the abuses at puppy mills, and I certainly scoff at some of their ridiculous frivolity (for more on this, see Christopher Guest's hilarious Best in Show).

But still, there's something I love about these dog shows, something the "celebration of the dogs" that WKC's David Frei spoke of. There's something quite wonderful about a competition that doesn't focus on appearance for appearance's sake and that doesn't really even make participants compete against one another. Instead, in a dog show, the dogs (and bitches, since, of course, dogs are technically only the boy ones) compete against their "breed standard." The breed standard holds the ideal specifications for coat, teeth, gait, size, temperament, and so on that presumably ensure that breed can best do what it was meant to do. The dog-show world groups and judges according to gifts and purpose and doesn't put one set of gifts or purpose or even gender in competition with the other ones. Each dog is judged against its ideal.

Part of what I love about dog shows is that I wish the human world was like this—or at least our churches. Imagine if instead of wasting our time fighting over who was allowed to do what, we simply celebrated the gifts we'd each been given. Imagine if instead of judging ourselves against people created with different gifts and purposes, we focused on the gifts we'd been given and judged ourselves against our own "breed standard."

Of course, our breed standard shouldn't be anything a committee or clubs debates and decides. Instead, our breed standard can be found in the life of Jesus Christ and in the Word of God.

In Romans, we read: "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

In short, whatever we were "bred" to do, we should do it—and do it as Jesus would. Not measuring ourselves against each other, not comparing ourselves to the different "body parts." We are to measure ourselves only against the standard of Jesus—with a heaping helping of grace, that is.

Of course, one of the areas where this analogy falls apart brings us back to the WKC's desire to keep viewers from seeing the sad reality of millions of dogs living in shelters.

In the Christian arena of life, though we are to keep our eyes on Jesus, this shouldn't ever blind us from needs of the world. In fact, keeping our eyes on our own Breed Standard means we must keep our eyes on what we Christians were made to do first and foremost: love our neighbors. And loving one another means remembering one another—staying mindful of those who are suffering, lonely, or who are waiting to be loved and rescued. Even, especially, when it interrupts our celebrating.