Dog Lovers Delight in Westminster Show

By on 7 March, 2011 in Carole King, Fun, Pets with 0 Comments

Montgomery’s Ryan Zienert, one of the country’s top ranked junior handlers, watches with Miss Kate at Westminster Show for the judge’s review.

While some sports enthusiasts wait anxiously for the Super Bowl every year, we dog-lovers wait for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Super Bowl of dog shows. The dog show world can be just as competitive and even non-dog owners don’t miss this annual televised event. It’s hard not to be captivated by the odd assortment of creatures, large and small, floating around the ring together — and you can appreciate their beauty without the responsibility and expense of owning them.

The Westminster Kennel Club, which has a long and prestigious history, evolved from the Westminster Breeding Association in 1876 by canine enthusiasts who named the club for their favorite hotel in Manhattan. The first dog show was held in 1876 — this year was the 135th anniversary. The show was moved in 1926 to Madison Square Garden III where it resided until 1968 when the Garden was demolished and the Show was moved to Madison Square Garden IV where it remains today.

The Westminster Show has always been progressive and maintained a connection with what was happening in the world around it. In 1888, Anna Whitney became the first female judge of the Westminster, and in the years 1918 and 1919 all proceeds from the show were donated to the American Red Cross for the war efforts. For several years after the tragedy on 9/11, Westminster Show continued to honor the many working dogs that took part in the rescue and aftermath.

All dogs in the Westminster Show are registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the top 5 ranked in each breed are invited to the Westminster Show. AKC recognizes and registers approximately 170 dog breeds classified in seven groups: herding dogs, sporting dogs, toy dogs, non-sporting dogs, hounds, terriers, and working dogs. After a winner is selected in each breed, that dog competes within each group. The seven winners of each group compete for the Best In Show award.

Here at home, breed enthusiasts founded the Montgomery Kennel Club in 1956 and meet monthly with informative speakers and fun activities. The Club annually sponsors two AKC-sanctioned dog shows, with the next ones on April 22-24 at Garrett Coliseum, a wonderful facility for these competitions. The shows offer an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of a healthy, well-bred dog and the public is always welcome to visit exhibitors and vendors. The Club sponsors show confirmation classes to instruct you and your dog on the proper protocol and training for the show ring, and it’s a great way to train basic manners and socialization.

Zienert prepares his whippet Briar for the judge’s pick.

As in all AKC-sanctioned dog shows, the dogs are not actually competing with each other. The experienced judges are looking for which dog is the most perfect example of the standards of that particular breed (as detailed by the AKC). The judge examines each dog, looking for the definitive breed characteristics such as height, coloration, tail set, ear hang, and coat texture, as well as movement as the dogs travel around the ring.

The 2011 Best in Show (BIS) winner was Grand Champion Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, a Scottish Deerhound. Hickory lives on a large farm in Virginia when she is not traveling to shows with her handlers. Large dogs rarely win, nor do entries from the hound group. Uno, the cute beagle from the hound group, was an oddity several years ago with his win. Although all show viewers pull for their favorite breeds to win, we Scottish Deerhound owners would have never dreamed that Hickory would take that BIS win last week. Breed enthusiasts cringe when their breed wins because that means there will be a surge of popularity in the breed, leading to over-breeding and puppy mills across the country. But it’s doubtful there will be an overabundance of these large majestic animals, we hope. They don’t look all that cuddly, although they are … just ask anyone who owns one of these couch potatoes!

CH Sas’ta Paisley ofTemujin (far left) shown by Carole King at the 2010 Scottish Deerhound National specialty show.

The pomp and circumstance and tradition associated with the Westminster Show continues to enthrall its viewers 135 years after its inception. And our strolls in the park have become more of an educational event as everybody who watched the Westminster Show now recognizes what breed of dog Paisley is and wants to pet one, which she is quick to oblige!

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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