All the dog lovers I know eagerly await watching the Westminster Dog Show each year at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. I am no exception. Last year my husband and I went and we had a blast. The most fun was meeting the dogs in back and watching them get primped and primed before their showings. Oh the tortures many of those poor things go through! Blow dryers, flat irons, curlers, sprays, gels, rubber bands galore are just of a few of the necessities that the groomers use to prepare the pup to perfection. It was also really fun to see the breeds’ personalities come to light when the dogs are all gathered in their “best of breed” rings. For example, those ever-friendly Labs (Labrador Retriever rescue) always seem to have their tails wagging whether they are waiting to be judged or not. The Mastiffs (Mastiff rescue), known to be rather lazy, are all lying down and falling asleep when they’re not “on” while the Viszlas (Viszla rescue)all seem to be bouncing in place doing their best to contain their energy but rarely sitting still. The movie, BEST IN SHOW, is probably one of the best-known and funniest movies spoofing the whole dog show process. For those who have not seen it yet, it’s a must.
Yesterday’s, New York Times had a cover story in their business section by David Segal: “Best P.R. in Show” describing the not-so-wonderful side of making a dog a star. It was disheartening to read that, much like movies studios and the Oscars, ads are taken out in trade papers and magazines extolling the virtues of a dog to be shown in hopes of garnering a few votes and good-will from the judges. The article goes on saying how much it costs to make these dogs stars: easily 6 figures and that many of the dogs are now “owned” by several people to help defray the costs involved for traveling to shows; handling; training; placing ads, etc. Hard to envision our loveable pets as commodities considering how much our dogs mean to us as integral parts of our families.
Nevertheless, we love to see the pups looking their best and we love to see all the different breeds. This year, three new ones have been accepted to the competition: The Norwegian buhund, the Pyrenean shepherd and the Irish red and white setter. Who will turn out to be this year’s star and capture the “Best in Show” ribbon at the 134th Westminster? Brandy, Val and I will be watching.