The Westminster Dog Show, Is That All There Is?

                                   by Sandy Herzon

The Westminster Dog Show, held each year at Madison Square Gardens in New York is the great neon sign in the sky for the dog show world, it is the great banner trailing behind the little airplane over the crowded beaches on the 4th of July, it is the one symbol-event that almost everyone recognizes that defines showing dogs.
 
There isn't a person that I meet, that doesn't pose the great statement/question, "Oh, I have probably seen you there on TV, right?" 
 
Well, the answer to the above is "No, but I attend over 60 other dogs shows a year elsewhere!" 
 
As sure as the sun will rise each morning, or so we hope it does, nine out of ten inquisitionist will retort with something along these lines, "There are that many dog shows!" 
 
Well again, the answer is yes; multiply that by 100's and you might be near the correct answer. There are dozens of dog shows almost every weekend of the year throughout the country, at fairgrounds, public parks, convention centers, motel/hotel grounds, privately owned grounds, old southern plantations and just about anywhere else that hundreds, sometimes 1000's of dogs, their owners, the owner's cars, buses, trailers and whatever else they used to arrive at the sometimes distance places can accommodate.
 
The next popular question from the enthralled participant, with well-chosen verbiage so as to not offend me, usually goes like this, "Who are these people that are into showing dogs?" Of course there is a pat answer to that question, one that I have recited way too many times to keep count of, remember I have been "into" dogs for over 30 years now.  For this essay, I will modify my "pat" answer and make it more informative. 
There seems to be a great misconception of who actually is into dog shows. First of all let's define the 2 distinct groups of people in the world. There is the real large group of people known as the None-Show Dog People; they obviously are not "into" dog shows- show dogs or the like. They may or may not own a dog, but they definitely are not into dog shows. Simple enough, that just leaves the other smaller subset of people in the world, the Dog Show People or the Show Dog People (DSP-SDP), either way it's the same group.
 
So now we will expose the denizens of the deep that seem to emerge from below, these nefarious folk that skulk about by the light of the full moon. For sure these "canine exhibitors" must be from some other planet, for the questions from the None-Show Dog People always seem to be with amazement that there are people that actually traipse around the country side on weekends to run around a ring and have their dogs "do tricks".
 
Let's take a stroll down Dog Patch Drive and see whom we run into at the most recent dog show. Of course you won't recognize any of the names, since they are indigenous to a particular locale, but in reality they could very well be your next-door neighbor, your attorney, your school principal or the person that extracts your next tooth.
 
As we make our way through the large convention center in some city 200 hundreds miles away from home, we navigate between isles and isles of kennel cabs, crates and X-pens (portable fencing that can be set up to contain a dog). There are small dogs, hairy dogs, large dogs and very large dogs, dogs, dogs and more dogs! There are just as many people as dogs, Dog Show People to be precise. Once in a very rare while, you will encounter a None-Show Dog Person (NSDP). They a very easily distinguished from the other variety of people, they are the ones in total awe of the commotions at hand, they rush from dog setup to dog setup, wide-eyed and full of surprise at all the funny looking dogs before them. They ask incessant questions of those holding, walking, grooming or just sitting by their dogs, so these NSDP have now been identified, now let's reveal the identities of the SDP/DSP!
 
Walking towards us is a jovial fellow and his very gregarious wife, they own German Shepherd Dogs and they travel to about every dog show that I do. They have professional dog handlers train and exhibit their dogs in the ring for them, as they root their dogs on from ringside.
So who are these people? Well, the gentleman, Peter is an attorney and his wife; Lourdes is the office manager at his law firm.
 
Next we meet up with Grace, always talking, networking, big smile on her face, she's the contagious type, always doing something good, especially for Rottie rescue, she's big into Rottweilers, so who is she and what does she do besides this dog stuff? Well, Grace is an Assistant Principal at a large, prestigious, private high school in my area. In fact, my nephew graduated from that very same high school and Grace is now campaigning for my 10-year old son, Ryan to attend her stomping grounds.
 
Having emerged from Grace's grasp without signing up for some do-good project, we next encounter Mike, tall, very athletic type. Mike owns a Golden Retriever that I happen to exhibit for him (I also happen to be one of those professional dog handlers, as in, I get paid to run around the ring with your dog type). Mike is a network cameraman, NBC, CBS or one of those other multi-lettered companies.
 
Exchanging pleasantries with Mike, we move on to Ray, he owns Doberman Pinchers, real nice guy, very cordial, always glad to see me and my kids, maybe because I contribute greatly to Ray's financial status. Besides being into dogs, Ray is also a dentist, an Orthodontist to be exact, my kid's Orthodontist to be even more exacting. We actually met Ray and his wife (also a dentist) way before he had dogs and ever thought about getting into dog shows.
 
Well, I guess that maybe by now you are starting to get the picture, DSP/SDP are really everyday-type people, the kind you meet up with at any given spot of our planet.
These dog show-types may be the lady next door, the guy behind the cameras, the guy in front of the judge or heaven forbid, the guy extracting your next tooth! 
 

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