Best in showing off

By Martha Handler and Jennifer Pappas

(M) Well we finally made it to the Westminster Dog Show and what a show it was. When I told a friend I was headed into the city that day, she asked if I was attending a runway show for Fashion Week. Now that we’ve been, I think it’s safe to say Westminster could rightly be called the Anti-Fashion Show. Just like in Christopher Guest’s hilarious mockumentary “Best in Show,” the pooches play second fiddle to those wacky dog handlers. Where on earth do you imagine they find those hideous outfits and why would they want to upstage their beasts by sporting such gaudy and outdated attire that you literally can’t take your eyes off them?

(J) I agree. A few of those handlers looked as if they had gone a tad overboard with the “bedazzler”.  Do you remember the one that was sporting the pink and black checkered, sequined smock? I believe that she completed her ensemble with a matching barrette. Or the woman with the tight, white satin suit on? That didn’t hold up so well under the glare of those horrid fluorescent lights. I did learn some interesting facts, however. For instance, who would have ever guessed that Bichon Frises were once considered to be the “sailor’s companions”? Really? Those fluffy little things? Sailors strike me as more the Mastiff types. And I had to chuckle to myself when the commentator referred to the Hound’s howl as “melodious”. That is not quite the adjective I would have chosen. Of course, my favorite dog, a Mastiff,  didn’t even make it to the final round. And I left disappointed and befuddled, unsure that the winning dog was a dog at all. It looked like a dog that wanted to be a dog when it grew up.

(M) True, but Banana Joe, that little monkey-faced Affenpinscher who won Best in Show, spoke four languages and was described as having “deadpan wit.” What does that even mean when it comes to a dog? The whole event truly made me feel as if I’d entered a parallel universe. Remember when we thought we saw handlers take dog treats out of their mouths before presenting them to their pups? Well, the good news is that we don’t need stronger glasses, because according to Google, this “keeps the treats moist and smelling familiar (like their handler’s mouth), which helps the dogs stay calm and interested in food.” Seriously? But nothing on stage could begin to compare to the behind-the-scenes action. The sheer number and types of gadgets and potions being used to “groom” those dogs was not to be believed. I know there are many who believe the dog shows are nothing short of animal cruelty, but honestly, most of those dogs, at least those that weren’t out cold, looked pretty happy to have so much attention lavished on them.

(J) To tell you the truth, I’m sure that the dogs get tired of being primped and primed, tugged at and confined to small quarters, at times feeling anxious because of the constant noise and commotion that they are subjected to. And I’m sure that it is somewhat humiliating to them (if that is a dog emotion) to be forced to strut around onstage under harsh lights in front of a critical audience, only to be ripped apart by the press (and people like me) the next day. But, wait: That sounds just like the life of a runway model. I remember it well. Only I had to do it in 5-inch heels and no one gave me a treat. In fact, I didn’t get to eat at all.

(M) Yes but starving might be preferable to eating regurgitated food. Although it seems to satisfy baby chicks, so what do I know? But seriously, anyone who is a serious dog lover should seriously consider attending Westminster. The incredible variety of dogs is nothing short of astounding. To understand the “spirit” of the show you truly have to experience it firsthand. What I find hard to swallow is that each and every one of those dogs evolved from wolves. And you know there couldn’t have been any “tinkering” along the way, because according to the official Westminster rules and regulations, “plastic and reconstructive surgery prior to the competition is prohibited.”


Wag up

(J) ROAR is an animal rescue center in Ridgefield that provides a safe place for homeless animals to recover and await adoption. Since ROAR opened its doors in 2005, it has placed more than 4,000 neglected and unwanted cats and dogs in loving homes.

(M) The Youtube video of “Britain’s Got Talent” 2012 Winner Ashleigh and Pudsey – best dancing dog ever and Ashleigh’s pretty cute too!


Wag down

(J) Fluorescent lights. They are just horrible on every level. Even the dogs at the Westminster Dog Show hated them. I could tell.

(M) The fact that one man, and not a panel, decides Westminster’s Best In Show winner. Clearly, when it comes to dogs, each and every one of us has his or her own biases.

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