Yes, that’s a blow dryer.
The only thing I knew about dog shows before last week was the movie, Best in Show, so when our friends’ sweet and beautiful Grand Champion French Bulldog got into Westminster, the largest televised dog show in the world, and the oldest–138 years old!–I was dying to go. So we did. We –and some 2,800 dogs– converged on New York City for a few days of shivering, showing and for some, stardom.
So, let’s get this out of the way first: I’ve always been a rescue pet kind of girl and look with jaundiced eye on the over-breeding that has ruined the health and mobility of many “pure” breeds. But the fact is, I knew nothing about the purebred dog world or showing dogs–only what others have written. So this was a chance to learn a little more first-hand.
I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely wanted to see what happened “behind the scenes.” So we went off to the Piers for the first series of competitions.
The first thing that caught my eye was a handler working with a German shepherd before competing. Quite cool. I caught some of it on video:
Dogs everywhere–it was hard to know which to look at first. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s hard not to–this day was crammed full of interesting new things.
The Queen’s not the only corgi lover; I’m also a fan.
So, here’s how it works: Each breed–there were around 186 of them– has its own competition–and then the winners compete in groups (sporting, non-sporting, toy, etc.) and those winners compete in the televised program for Best in Show.
Tickets to the breed competitions at Westminster (held in the hours preceding each televised “best of show” competition) gave us access to not only the rings but “backstage”– and the ability watch as groomers and handlers prepped and primped their canine clients. And as our little Frenchie pal rested up for his big appearance, we walked around, and we were mostly welcome to watch how these stars got ready for the ring.
Pomeranians are showstoppers, they really are. Tiny and cute, the strut their stuff like they were born to walk the runway. Their smiling faces make me smile, too. This Pom may be small, but it still takes a lot of work to look picture-perfect for the ring. (Once in a while I can watch secretly as Riley is groomed and he is just as good as this dog was. But if I were grooming him, you can bet he’d be pitching a royal fit.)
Snip. Brush. Comb. Powder. Fluff. Oh, that face! Could you just die for it? Kisses!
As I always say in the salon, if nothing’s happening, you might as well relax. I usually have a magazine, but this dog didn’t bring one.
The sheepdogs always drew a crowd and these groomers actually engaged the children and encouraged them to pet the dogs.
Yes, that’s why they drew a crowd: mustache grooming was–amusing. I wanted to twirl his tied-up ‘stache. He probably wanted to rip out the bands.
It took a village. No joke–there were crews of groomers and they were dead serious and focused on making their clients look fabulous.
Long-suffering. Looks like a really nice dog, though.
Lotta hair–and it required a lot of fluffing. Now, I should remind you that fluffing means one thing in the porn world and something entirely different at a dog show. Just saying. This dog was just beautiful, but to have a dog like that I’d need an in-house vacuum servant. (Note that I didn’t say I’d do it, myself. I’ve never used our new vacuum. I don’t even know where it is, much less how to turn it on.)
Made me nervous, but this dog was perfectly relaxed hanging over the edge of the table. (Do not tell me any stories about dogs falling off tables, etc because I over-empathize and it will flip me out. Seriously.)
Don’t blame this dog a bit. Note the chalk and powder. I was wearing black and a few groomers were nice enough to caution me not to get the white stuff on my clothing.
Below? Let’s call him “Scruffy.” Not his name, but he was irresistible.
It takes a lot to look scruffy and cute.
Just ask this Brussels Griffon.
I love this breed and this tough little dog. What a face! He looks like trouble, right?
I fell in love with this breed: the long-coated chihauhau. What a sweet face! They look even cuter in person. I’d love one… but they shed. This beauty was sweet and mellow, but some are very high-strung. Like the black and white one I met at the Santa Clara County dog show a few days later. But this little one? So precious. And calm.
Gorgeous. One of the most imposing breeds, ever. But I felt sad for their sloping hips and how overbred they looked. They exemplify my problem with show dogs and “pure-breds.”
Isn’t s/he a beauty? She looks like she’s wearing wire-rims and ready to teach English literature.
Yes, even bloodhounds need a visit to the salon. Maybe to get their wrinkles shaken out.
Beautiful bichon. We saw so many lovely bichons; they really are striking, with those tiny button eyes peering out of a cloud of white.
We saw a lot of blow dryers and hair clips. More than I have in my own bathroom!
And so many dogs getting powdered and fluffed, like this one: (video)
Adore. One of these flew back on the plane with us. A (wink-wink) “service dog.”
And below, can you find the second dog?
So regal. But also too thin. Just too thin.
I heart this cutie. He wanted to come with me, and I don’t blame him. He’s a 13-inch beagle and I wanted him, too. What a darling dog!
The camera folks were always looking for something eye-catching. And they found it here:
What could this be? It was unidentifiable as any form of life.
I couldn’t find the face…..
Ooohhhh, there it is! These groomers have their work cut out for them–talk about a fancy cut. My husband captions this “Why dogs bite.”
But it’s all worth it in the end, right?
And ready for the ring. Poodles always look like stars.
Some stiff competition, though.
So there you have it: a look behind the scenes at how dogs are prepared for their big moment at Westminster Dog Show. More to come on the dogs and the show.