It came as no surprise to me that the Westminster Dog Show fell during Fashion Week this year. After all, these dogs are the ultimate displays of aesthetic accomplishment and gravitas, the owners dedication akin to that of top fashion designers. One sneak peak behind that curtain and you’d probably be praising the fashion industry for their lax attitude towards the models in comparison.
When my dad emailed me The Washington Post’s Divas of Westminster article this morning, the deep sense of failure I felt that I hadn’t written it was second only to my pure and genuine glee that someone else had. Some highlights include doggy chiropractics, doggy Springsteen lovers, 12-hour doggy blowdries, and doggy jewelry.
And if you think the article is making fun of the industry then I agree and don’t think it’s the worst thing. The ethos of dog shows, aka breeder heaven, leaves a little to be desired. PETA: Don’t shoot the messenger. Can we agree dog shows are funny? I promise I’ll adopt.
Should I look inward when I’ve had to apologize to PETA twice in one week?
One of my favorite things about dogs in general is the grand canyon of difference between what we act like they know and what they actually know, and this is never more present than at a dog show. The best story this year was of a wirehaired vizsla who ate $10,000 dollars worth of diamonds, prompting his owner to follow him around for a week to recover them. Only $8k was found so I guess you could say the vizsla increased in value that day. Ba-dum-CH!
Dog shows came into my purview because of the movie Best in Show, which I was delighted to find can barely be considered a parody because all the handlers really do wear sparkly skirt suits with sensible loafers and the announcers really do sprinkle puns like “I guess you could consider this one an underdog” throughout the show.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the dog show protocol, all the babies first compete with their own kind for Best of Breed, then the breed winners compete in their respective groups for Best of Group, and then these 7 group winners compete for Best in Show. The Best of Group is usually a mixed bag IMO, and this year was no different. Allow me to share:
Winner of the Working Group: The Portuguese Water Dog
All the dogs have insanely long and usually terrible names. This is “Claircreek Impression De Matisse.” He was the #1 dog in the country last year which is a little upsetting considering a third of his body is shaved for the sole purpose of fashioning his tail into a palm tree.
Apparently he’s won 238 Best in Shows which tells you less about how great he is and more about how overzealous these owners and handlers are.
Winner of the Sporting Group: The English Springer Spaniel
This is “Wynmoor Sweetgrass White Diamonds.” I can’t be mad when a spaniel wins the sporting group because I love a short leg and a long ear but I was actually rooting for the Clumber Spaniel aka “Clussexx Over The Legal Limit,” but no dice:
Winner of the Hound Group: The Beagle
This is “Ha-Penny’s Too Much Trouble,” but you can call her “Miss P” for short. The third and fourth place hound dogs were literally named “Under the Influence” and “Jersey’s Due Process of Law” and there has to be a metaphor in there. Beagles are always crowd favorites but the best is still yet to come in my view.
Winner of the Non-Sporting Group: The Standard Poodle
Not to be confused with her competitor the miniature poodle “Cherry Garcia”:
The standard poodle has won the westminster non-sporting group 28 times of the 139 shows, which is a hugely disproportionate amount when you compare it to the size of the group, which is a clusterfuck of random dogs that don’t fit into other categories. You’ve got your chow, your bischon, your dalmatian, your bulldog, your boston terrier, your doges, your frenchies, your dogs-that-look-like-old-men. I guess there was just something about Flame the judge couldn’t ignore, perhaps it’s her uncanny resemblance to 11 black olives stuck on toothpicks.
Winner of the Herding Group: The Old English Sheepdog
This is “Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect” but he goes by Swagger. Still deciding on which name I like more. Swagger is more than a pink tongue and black nose poking out of a cotton ball, he’s won 118 best in shows and is the top-winning English Sheepdog in the history of English Sheepdogs. He lumbered across that green carpet like the handsome gentleman that he is.
Winner of the Terrier Group: The Skye Terrier
I was very pleased when “Good-time Charlie” won the Terrier group. His name is apt and his hair is on trend for the 70’s, two things you simply can’t ignore. Check out those ears and tell me you don’t agree. Only one skye terrier has ever won the Best in Show for WKC so this was A Big Deal.
Winner of the Toy Group: The Shih Tzu
This is “Hallmark Jolei Rocket Power.” Based on the grace with which he floated across the stadium I can only assume he was named after the Nickelodeon show from 1999. Rocket didn’t necessarily receive the loudest cheer, but he was not short on support.
Like I said, the Best of Group was a mixed bag. But take into consideration my criteria for chill or not chill, which heavily relies on hair length and a clear lack of athleticism. My top picks were the sheep dog, the sky terrier, and the shih tzu. Miss P, the beagle, who actually won, was a close fourth. In the spirit of honoring Kale Chips, as well as my friend Kelsey’s late obese beagle Phoebe, I think Miss P was a good and fair choice.
My goal is to attend at least some part of NY Fashion Week next year, and if that ends up being the Westminster Dog Show, I guess I couldn’t really complain.
Info from The Westminster Kennel Club website and photos from random google image searches. Does that count as citing my sources?