Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gearing up for Westminster Dog Show

There is only one Westminster. It is the granddaddy of Dog Shows here in the US. Dog lovers have once again descended on midtown Manhattan to compete for Best in Show at New York's fabled Madison Square Garden. The hotels and streets are filled with Champion Dogs and Bitches who have proved their worthiness over a series of local dog shows around the country over the past year and longer.

Organizers of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show wisely incorporate a strong focus on animal rescue and adoption as part of the promotions around the sport of dog breeding, handling, grooming and showing. There are of course, thousands if not millions of really excellent dogs and cats in local shelters waiting for a good home.

Watching the Westminster Dog Show is actually a great way to learn about various breeds, as they always include information about the breed traits, temperament and needs. This is the single most important thing people forget to do when they decide to add a pet to their home. It's never a good idea to pick a pet just on looks or what you've seen in a movie or on TV. Always read up on a pet's traits and needs before making a decision. Consider your own lifestyle, schedule, home environment and budget as factors in the decision of which breed to add to your life. Certain breeds are known to be great family pets, while others can be more focused on just one human. Some dogs have high energy needs and long to run- those wouldn't be a great choice if you live in a small apartment or don't have the free time to take the dog for the exercise it will need. So watching Westminster on TV is a handy step toward increasing your knowledge of various breed types.

When you go to a shelter to adopt, ask questions about the breed and be honest about your own limitations as a pet parent. Incidentally, if you are on Twitter, search for the  hash tag #pawpawty to help shelters!

I've been attending Westminster for the past eight years- maybe longer I forget! It is so much fun to be around all the dogs who are clearly having FUN. You'll notice it when you watch the show on TV, when a dog wins, they get excited and smile, jump around and often kiss their handler. It is almost as if they know. Who knows, maybe they do!

Over the years I've had the opportunity to get to know hundreds of people who enjoy the sport of showing dogs. Is everyone perfect? No certainly not. But who among us are? By and large, the overwhelming majority of people who show dogs do it out of the love of dogs, and are exceptionally proud of their breed.

It was here that I became introduced to Standard Poodles. They love-love-love the show process. They clearly love to be groomed, primped and fluffed. I've actually caught my own Sheldon looking at himself in the mirror when he returns from the groomer. It is hilarious that he knows he looks good and wants to admire himself.

Anyway, as I attend the various events here at Westminster I'll try to capture some moments and share them on the blog and on Twitter. Pets are my passion. My only regret is that my two standard poodles are back at home in Palm Springs. But come to think of it, they are probably relaxing poolside with a bowl of Evian Water while I am bundled up in New York. I'm perfectly OK with them getting whatever they want! Catch the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on the USA Network Monday and Tuesday evenings.


© Karelian Blonde said...

Have fun and I am looking forward to the pictures :)

kenju said...

I always love watching that dog show.

My elderly friend bought a Bichon because she needed a dog that she wouldn't be allergic to, but little did she know how active they are. He is too much for an 80 year old!

Tom said...

My wife will be there with our corded Standard Poodle. He's awesome.

KathyA said...

Love seeing the beautiful dogs!!

I thought you were back East! Could almost feel it!!


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