I’ve been talking to all kinds of people about Westminster Kennel Club the last few weeks. Everybody has a story. Some are inspiring, some are terrifying, some are hysterical.
Personally, I was a Garden “virgin” until my late 20s. My parents flat refused to go and/or send me and after that I was much too poor to go just for “fun” while in college and working “straight” jobs. It wasn’t until an early Irish Wolfhound client hired me for the trip (if you missed it last year, revisit the “lizard in the bathtub” story….) that I was first able to experience the wonder, the overwhelmingness, the electricity, the mad-house/roving cocktail party atmosphere, and, finally, the spine-tingling power of the longest continuous sporting event in the United States.
One of the recurring themes in all of the stories I’ve been told is that of the randomness. The dogs that didn’t make it out of the breed or the group who could have changed the entire outcome. Luc Boileau’s Peke in 1990 that he tells me could have been beaten by any one of several others who didn’t get through to the big ring.
And the drama. Andy Linton’s Doberman, Indy, who he tells me was in bloat when she came off the plane on arrival in 1989. She rallied to win the big ribbon a few days later.
And the joy and agony of “so close and yet so far” from Pat Trotter. Her Norwegian Elkhound Calista won the hound group in both ’89 and ’90. She’ll be back this year, she says, for one more shot at the holy grail of dogdom.
And the exhilaration of the “third time’s the charm” win for Bill McFadden and Mick the Kerry Blue Terrier. “I swore to him it was the last time he’d have to see that green carpet,” Bill says. Mick won the group three years running, earning BIS in 2003.
And the 12-year-old girl’s dream fulfilled for Valerie Nunes-Atkinson and CJ the German Shorthaired Pointer last year.
All of these stories and so many more have been burned into the memories of purebred dog enthusiasts since 1877.
New stories are about to be written. New dreams born. Old friends and rivals will meet on that green carpet in Madison Square Garden.
There is no question much has changed in the last 140-plus years. In a move that has a great many fanciers up in arms, WKC is promoting individual dogs in the Road to Westminster series. For Pete’s sake, cats have been invited to participate in the meet the breeds event on Saturday.
Nonetheless, there is little doubt that this year, like all the rest, will bring randomness and drama, joy and agony, exhilaration and dreams fulfilled.
To listen to some of these incredible stories, drop by PureDogTalk.com in the coming week.
Meanwhile, in the Year of Living *Together*, let the pure joy of all things dogdom wash over you.
As always, this is JMHO.