Monday, February 9, 2009

Rick's Roadshow: New York, Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Begins

Rick's Roadshow continues from New York as I attend and participate in the 133rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The venerable Westminster Kennel Club was established in 1877 and is the oldest organization in the US focused on the sport of purebred dogs. It was first televised back in 1948 and today remains the most-watched dog show in America. The show is divided into two days: today, Monday, February 9 will feature Hounds, Terriers, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups from 8-9 p.m. (Eastern) live on USA Network or from 9-11 p.m. (Eastern) live on CNBC. Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10 will feature Sporting, Working and Toy Groups, and the Best In Show from 8-11 p.m. (Eastern) live on USA Network. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of dog shows, judges review dogs by groups, then by breed. The judges are highly skilled and trained to observe things about the dogs such as general appearance, how they move and overall temperament. They also study each dog's physical aspects like the build (height & weight), the color and texture of the coat, color and shape of their eyes, type of ears and extremities including tail & feet. The groups are all about the type of dog, their instinct and breeding traits. For example:
Sporting: Bred originally to assist a hunter, and demonstrate high energy and have a very stable temperament. (Pointers, Spaniels, Retrievers & Setters)
Hounds: This is a group of dogs that also assist hunters, but actually bring the game or guard it until the hunter arrives. They are known for using their nose to locate the game.
Working: As their name implies, this is a dog that is usually quite smart with a powerful build and is nimble to perform just about any assignment required. They make great guard dogs at home, can protect farms, fowl or livestock. They are also known as guide dogs, service dogs or in service as canine police officers and military dogs.
Terrier: This group can be somewhat scrappy but are compact and courageous dogs. They can chase a small animals including vermin, foxes, squirrels, etc.
Toy: These tiny canines (usually 10 pounds or less) are bred as companions for people. They are high energy, spirited dogs and are compact versions of a larger dog type.
Herding: Sort of like a working dog but this group specifically can be identified for a natural instinct to work on farms and ranches to herd livestock. They are remarkable with kids too, as they just want to do their job to coral the little ones into one place!
Non-Sporting: Basically any dog that doesn't fit into one of the groups above.
If you plan to watch the Westminster Dog Show, here is some basic terminology to help you understand what's going on. Below is Uno the Beagle, who was "Best In Show" from 2008:
BEST OF BREED: The dog that receives an award as the best representative of the Breed.
VARIETY: Usually refers to the sub-division within a particular breed using traits such as size, color, or coat.
BEST IN SHOW: The top and final award given for the single dog selected from among the seven finalists as the best dog among all group types. It is the big deal coveted award in a dog show.
CHAMPION: You usually see this title abbreviated as "Ch" before the dog's name. All dogs that participate at Westminster must already be Champions.It refers to when a dog has earned a minimum or 15 points in various dog show competitions that resulted in a win at an AKC dog show.
GAIT: The way the dog looks as it moves or walks. If a dog has a proper gait, it means it is structured and balanced and has good genes and muscle/bone development. This is why the professional handlers "walk" the dog around the ring while the judges watch so intently.
Well I hope this helps you better understand the dog show lingo. Today is a "work day" for me, representing my company. I'll be speaking with breeders, handlers, groomers and judges on Monday day during the individual breed judging. I'll also be attending the televised portion this evening, I hope you can watch!
-Rick Rockhill


jackie said...

Should be a doggone good time for you then! Thanks for the lingo lesson, I just love watching dog shows on tv. I have a basset hound who can sniff a hot dog a mile away, I swear!!

Anonymous said...

I'll have to watch for you on TV this week.... YAY!

I love this show... watch it every year.

Sharon said...

I KNEW there was a reason we were having unseasonably warm weather this week. You brought some of that Southern California sunshine here with you! Enjoy!
- Sharon -

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

have fun rick! i know you will... and eat a little cake while you are there, okay?

smiles, bee

Olivia said...

I love to watch the sporting dogs take the ring, with their beautiful gaits and shiny coats. *sigh*

Said with bias of course. Always that special place in my heart for spaniels.

Desert Songbird said...

The kids and I love watching the National Championships and the Westminster shows every year. Since we can't have a dog, it's one way to enjoy them.


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