I went to the National Dog Show this weekend, which shouldn’t be confused with the Westminster Dog Show, but instead is the dog show that your aunt will be watching on Thanksgiving before you rip the remote from her hand and put on the Lions game. Follow all that? Great.
I imagine the large majority of people out there have not had the opportunity to attend a dog show, but it really is almost exactly like the movie Best in Show. I’m not even sure that movie qualifies as parody. Aside from all the handlers having a right AND a left foot, the dog show related details in the film are all quite accurate.
Dog show people are crazy in that obsessed, yet not totally endearing way that you see with most niche fascinations. And, going to the dog show was an intense experience because you have the common folk walking around saying things like, “look a Lassie dog,” mixed in with someone blow drying a dog’s tail while it stands on a specially designed grooming table that may cost more than the groomer’s car.
Anyway, I’m not going to spoil which breed won the show, and actually I have no idea who won. The results are either closely guarded or people don’t care enough to make them public before Thanksgiving. But, we only saw one group final and a bunch of preliminary stuff. Some dog show thoughts–in case you ever go.
1. Some of the dog owners are very nice, some cannot be bothered at all, and others are blossoming egomaniacs? Oh, US? We’re just waiting around for best in breed. Yep, thanks, thanks for asking. (No one asked).
2. The dogs, on the other hand, seem to all be extremely friendly and well-behaved. I didn’t see a single unsuspecting toddler lose a grubby finger.
3. It’s a bit of a low-budget affair. There is a misconception among some people that there is big money in raising dogs and showing them, kind of like racehorses, and those people are wrong. I’m fairly sure the winner of the dog show gets a trophy, a lot of personal validation and a coupon to Cracker Barrel. This ain’t the Kentucky Derby. And, that shows in the “outer rings” that are nothing more than squares outlined in collapsible “fencing.” The areas where the dogs have to wait things out are also quite cramped. Even the “tv ring,” is a lot smaller than it appears on television with fewer seats available than your average high school gym.
4. I learned that not all the best dogs go to all the big shows. It’s sometimes better to win a smaller show than to get bested against tougher competition. This, of course, does not matter to the casual spectator who is not interested in seeing Grand Champion English Tom’s Muffins–they just want to see whatever kind of dog they have.
5. The guy who announces the show really is the best. Is he reading off a script? Does he get bored describing the same breeds every year? “The Appalachian Squirrel Terrier originated in Western Virginia in the 1830s and quickly developed a reputation among moonshiners as a loyal and easily trained tracker of small game. In the years since, as demand for squirrel meat has rapidly declined, the Appalachian Squirrel Terrier has found a niche a docile lap dog. This is Appalachian Squirrel Terrier…Number 27.”
6. The handlers wear terrible outfits. There are a lot of suits (on the ladies w/skirts) that seem salvaged from the nineties. Apparently being a handler requires you to wear something that accentuates your upper arms. Think shoulder pads or poofy sleeves. If you took all the dogs out of the room you might think, “oh, hilarious–90s prom party.” Also, all these women wear grandma sneakers and trot around the ring. It’s spectacular.
7. Speaking of clothing. I thought I’d see more air-brushing. I thought there would be an air-brushing station where you could get your dog sprayed onto your jean jacket, but I saw nothing of the sort.
8. Someone streaked right between the Schipperke and the Keeshond. I’m joking, but that would have been wild, right?
9. Aside from the main show ring there were two massive crowds. One around the ring where the golden retrievers were showing and another around the booth selling dog treats. I’m serious, the dog treat booth was like stock exchange scene in Trading Places.
10. There were no puppies for sale. Thankfully, because you might have left there with a dog.