A Fun Day at the Dog Show!

The glamorous world of dog shows!

Have you ever been to a dog show? It’s quite a remarkable experience, and not at all like being trapped in a cavernous room with a bunch of crazed fanatics and their pets. Seriously. Last week I accompanied my beloved wife and her dog Andre (actually, her friend’s dog, but that’s another story) to a dog show in a deserted fairgrounds deep in the mud pits of Maryland. It was kind of fun, in a deeply terrifying sort of way.

Champion Wuffles McScooter out of Bingo by Princess Gertie.

Across the country, a secretive and dangerous organization known as the “American Kennel Club” puts on a series of events in which otherwise rational people get up at an ungodly hour and pay strangers to tell them what’s wrong with their pets. Here is how it works. The show area is divided into various “rings,” in each of which around a dozen people trot their purebred pooches in a circle under the watchful eye of a judge.

Typically a ring is filled with 6- to 12-month old puppies of a single breed, and after these are judged they’re replaced by older dogs, then older bitches, and so forth, until finally the champion dogs in that breed are examined. One or two animals in each group is judged to be the best, then all of the winners compete against each other to determine a best of that breed, then all of the best of breeds compete to produce a best of show. Each animal must be an AKC-registered purebred, and their owners cough up around $35 bucks for each doggie entered in the show. Winning dogs may be awarded championship points, and once they get enough points they in fact become champions.

Can I get an "Awwww -- how cute!" from the studio audience?

Some shows are fairly small, but others are huge, with thousands of dogs in attendance. The one we recently attended was middling-sized, with maybe a couple of hundred of dogs and their servitors – I mean owners. As usual the dogs were beautiful, the owners were crazy, and the food was very terrible.

Tragically, Little Timmy totally drowned while Lassie was getting a shampoo and blow dry.

There are several parts of this spectacle that are deeply disturbing to the rational mind. As I said before, the contestants are paying the judge some $35 smackers to judge their animals. And while some dog owners do show their own dogs in the ring, many pay professional dog handlers additional money to show their dogs. Since winning increases the value of the animals – and especially their puppies – there can be quite a lot riding on the outcome.  In short, while most of the owners are quite nice as individuals, once their animal is in the ring they show the same level of friendliness as your average great white shark around lunchtime.

Benjy plots his revenge.

Also, there’s the extra-creepy question of animal-groping to consider. Part of the judge’s job is to determine whether or not a male dog possesses all of its, shall we say, fishing tackle.  Needless to say, a good deal of a male show dog’s training involves teaching him to let some stranger grab his nards without biting the man’s face right off. But you can tell they’re thinking about it…

This is not even a real dog.

So anyway, a good time was had by all. You should go some time – you get to see some really cool animals and amusingly disturbed owners. But if anybody suggests that you get yourself a purebred dog and participate in a show, then I recommend that you back away slowly and head for the nearest exit. And if you meet a judge, think carefully before you shake hands.

Third prize, a silver platter. Second prize, a silver dog bowl. First prize, a baby.

The best job ever!

The best job, ever!

If this dog ever gets out, it will kill you.

Andre, the bestest, most beautiful Pointer in the entire universe. Stud services available for a reasonable fee.


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