Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Day 2 in photos
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the invite-only affair that is the most prestigious dog show in the U.S., ended Tuesday night with the crowning of an odds-on favorite, Sadie the Scottish terrier, as Best in Show.
But Westminster is about much more than the coronation of the winning dog that, the kennel club tweeted, "becomes America's dog for the next year." It's also about people-watching, dog-watching, plain-and-simple gawking, occasional (gentle) mocking and, of course, celebrating our love of dogs.
Joining Sadie in the Best in Show ring were a whippet named Chanel, a toy poodle named Walker, a French bulldog named Bru, a puli named Conrad, a Brittany named Tally and a Doberman pinscher named C.J. And there were surprises and firsts along the way; a French bulldog had never before won Westminster's non-sporting group and top-winning show dogs like Treasure the golden retriever failed to make it out of their groups to join the Best in Show competition. Well, that's show biz.
We've assembled some of our favorite photos from Day 2 at Westminster, from graceful weimaraners to galumphing mastiffs. (And you might see a few shots of America's own Scottie as well.) Above, a 9-year-old English springer spaniel named Rosie is groomed by Meagan Ulfers of Sherman, Conn., before entering the ring. Rosie seems to be giving Ulfers the stink eye, but she's far too well-behaved to act on any impulse she might have to make a run for it. Good dog, indeed!
Above, 3-year-old miniature schnauzer Blue gets a last-minute trim from Traci Peto of Baltimore. But this is the easy part for Blue; miniature schnauzers have "a double coat that requires hand stripping for the show ring," according to the American Kennel Club. (Most pet owners forgo this process, by which a groomer removes dead hair either by hand or by means of a tool called a stripping knife.)
At left, a golden retriever named Calvin Klein has his toenails trimmed by Ginny Kladis. (We wish he'd give our own dogs some tips on standing still during this process, but we digress.) At right, an American cocker spaniel -- not to be confused with an English cocker spaniel -- is blow-dried before taking his turn in the ring. (We don't even want to think about what would happen if we attempted this on our ill-mannered mutts, who would just as soon remain damp, thank you very much.)
Edwina, a miniature bull terrier from St. Louis, Mo., is groomed by Alex Romero before entering the ring. What practical purpose is served by rubbing a dog's toe with a common household sponge? Your guess is as good as ours. (Groomers, any insights you may have about this would be welcomed in our comments section below. Color us fascinated.)
Of course, once the grooming process is complete, there's often a bit of down time before stepping into the show ring. Dogs being dogs, these freshly-groomed fellows may take that down time as an opportunity to muss their fur or dip their long, sleek ears into their water bowls. To combat this, some groomers turn to rubber bands and flashy headwear out of an abundance of caution -- and, as the case may be, an abundance of sequins:
At left, a komondor named Major sports a festive updo, which allows us to see his eyes but also makes him look even sillier than the average komondor. (We say that lovingly.) At right, a clumber spaniel named Jennifer models a hat that would make Cher jealous. Time to get this dog to Vegas!Now, here's where we bet the long-haired dogs get jealous: While they're forced to await their turns in the ring wearing silly-looking-if-practical stuff on their heads, the smooth-coated dogs are allowed to simply loll about wearing tiny replicas of horse blankets:
Above, Murphy, a bull terrier, relaxes -- you know, because he's smooth-coated, so he can.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of bull terriers, we'd like to just take this opportunity to point out that famous Bud Light spokesdog Spuds McKenzie's real name was -- wait for it -- Honey Tree Evil Eye. Just rolls off the tongue, no?
Backstage at Westminster can be as fun a place as any to hang out, if you're a dog; at left, a weimaraner named Sizzle relaxes with owner Jennifer Martin in the benching area. (We like to imagine that Sizzle is thinking, "Eat your heart out, William Wegman.") At right, William, an English springer spaniel, gets comfortable alongside owner Cyndi Lester.
Just try to make a mastiff stand up if he doesn't want to. Just try. Above, Wilbur and Anchor enjoy each other's companionship despite the fact that they're rivals for the title of Best of Breed.
Things start to get exciting as the dogs prepare to enter the ring at Madison Square Garden:
Can you feel the nervous energy? Maybe that's the Red Bull we had this morning. We knew we shouldn't have had that Red Bull. Above, handlers and their dogs wait in the wings before competing.
The excitement of competition makes some dogs smile:
Some dogs are able to handle the excitement, while others let it go to their heads:
Above, an energetic Portuguese water dog loves showing so much, he's liable to jump up and down about it. Of course, this fellow is in good company in the overly-excited-Portuguese-water-dog department; first dog Bo has also been known to get a little too exuberant.
Miniature schnauzer Blue is back, and he's still being groomed! His expression seems to say, "I thought we'd finished this hours ago!"
But if you thought being an elaborately-coiffed show dog like Blue had its drawbacks, then imagine, if you will, a day in the life of a dog-show judge:
At upper left, a judge feels a bull terrier's tail. Upper right, a great Pyrenees is examined. Lower left, it's time to check out the formidable teeth of a Neapolitan mastiff. And finally, lower right, a judge takes a look at the bite -- the way the dog's teeth fit together -- of Treasure the golden retriever.
Knowing how to perform tricks might win the audience's approval, but will it catch the eye of the judge? In Gedeon the vizsla's case, the sitting-up routine, while impressive, wasn't enough to score him a top placement in the sporting group. (Those went to a Brittany, an Irish water spaniel, a Gordon setter and a Labrador retriever.)
Above, a glamorous Irish setter competes in the sporting group. 2010 marked the first year that four different setter breeds competed at Westminster: The Irish setter, English setter, Gordon setter and newly-inducted Irish red-and-white setter.
Above, handler Clint Livingston shows Treasure, the golden retriever whose failure to win the sporting group was viewed as something of a shocker. The honor was instead bestowed on:
Ch. Willowick Taltean, Tally for short, whose group win surprised even her handler, Kellie Miller.
Above, Major the komondor is back and competing in the working group, this time without the rubber bands holding back his long cords.
Hmmm. We're not sure who focus on in this photo: Handler Carissa Demilta Shimpeno or C.J., the Doberman pinscher who won the working group.
The final group to enter the ring Tuesday night was the terrier group; its outcome was perhaps the night's least surprising. Sadie, the Scottie who was later named Best in Show, emerged victorious over a smooth fox terrier, a Norwich terrier and an Airedale terrier.
One surprising event did occur a short time after Sadie was named the winner of the terrier group: Anti-Westminster protesters took to the ring bearing signs that read "Mutts Rule" and "Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs' Chances," not surprisingly an unpopular stance to take at a show frequented by purebred dog aficionados.
Tuesday night's protest wasn't the first time animal-rights activists had descended on Westminster; in 2009, PETA members demonstrated outside Madison Square Garden dressed as Klansmen. The protesters handed out leaflets proclaiming that, like KKK members, "dog breeders who subscribe to the AKC standards are all about the sanctity of 'pure bloodlines.' So what if beagles have epileptic seizures, Dalmatians are deaf, and pugs can barely breathe because of how they are purposely bred to look a certain way? Looks are everything!"
The activists' protest was short-lived, however; above, one of them is led away by security as another looks on.
Sadie, however, seemed unfazed by all the hubbub. Above, she looks up at handler Gabriel Rangel after being named Best in Show.
But Sadie wasn't calm for long:
As photographers swarmed her, the Westminster winner let excitement get the best of her.
Fortunately, Rangel knew just how to calm the savage Scottie:
He simply had to set her next to a silver trophy and a giant ribbon, and she remembered that she's "America's dog" now, and she'd better act like it.
Ah, readers, it's been another exciting year in the world of the Westminster Kennel Club. Will next year's show be as full of excitement and fun? Only time will tell!
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photos, from top: English springer spaniel: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Miniature schnauzer: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Golden retriever: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. American cocker spaniel: Chris Hondros / Getty Images. Miniature bull terrier: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Komondor: Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency. Clumber spaniel: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Bull terrier: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Weimaraner: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. English springer spaniel: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Mastiffs: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Waiting in the wings: Chris Hondros / Getty Images. Samoyed: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Portuguese water dog: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Miniature schnauzer: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Bull terrier: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Great pyrenees: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Neapolitan mastiff: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Golden retriever: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Vizsla: David Goldman / Associated Press. Irish setter: Chris Hondros / Getty Images. Golden retriever: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press. Brittany: Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency. Komondor: Henny Ray Abrams / Associated Press. Doberman pinscher: Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency. Scottish terrier: Henny Ray Abrams / Associated Press. Protester holding "Mutts Rule" sign: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Protester being led away by security: David Goldman / Associated Press. Scottish terrier: Chris Hondros / Getty Images. Scottish terrier and photographers: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images. Scottish terrier and trophy: David Goldman / Associated Press.