Dogs that look like little lambs. Dogs with fur like twisted clothesline rope. Dogs so big you wonder, “How did a bear wander unnoticed into Madison Square Garden?” More than 2,500 canines vie for Top Dog honors at the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, held February 13 and 14, 2012.
No other dog show in the world compares to the prestigious Westminster. Established in 1877, it’s America’s second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby. Best in Show winners make television talk show appearances, visit the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck and become America’s next adored breed.
The choicest seats in the house during the dog show are reserved for owners, breeders and very serious dog enthusiasts. But those of us with dogs at home with names like Spot and Max can still see the action just fine from the cheap seats. Dogs are judged in groups, including the Sporting Group, Working Group and Toy Group. Best in Show is chosen from each groups’ blue ribbon winners.
The judging is fascinating, but an equally great show goes on behind the scenes in the benching area. It’s a great place for families to learn about the dozens of breeds eligible for the 2012 competition.
Best of Show is announced late in the evening during the second day. Excitement builds until the next champion accepts his or her silver cup, and for the rest of the pooches, it is a “ruff ruff” night.