Television has been an absolutely magical part of my full life.
Whether it was our black and white TV sets with either “rabbit ears” or the simple roof antenna on top our various homes in Our Town during the simpler/gentler times of the 1950s/’60s, the manually operated (no remote control) wonderful box brought inside the outside world. Time progressing forward to the color picture units, all the way to today’s incredibly large flat-screen models, have all brought me total entertainment and educational value wherever I have lived.
Through all the years, I have had many favorite TV shows. Annual television coverage and my love of dogs, has made the February Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show near the very top of my “like/love” list of TV events to always watch.
I vividly remember looking forward to this incredible yearly television production, featuring beautiful show dogs, being paraded around the large, floor-level, ring inside massive and historical Madison Square Garden in New York City. This annual two-day affair has always been a viewing highlight on my early February entertainment schedule, and the recent 145th edition, 2020 event, was once again an absolute thrill for us (my bride, Debbie, too) to watch on our home screen. As before, with each class of canines, and their expert human handlers, Ms. Debbie and I smiled at each other in agreement, as we both love these special four-legged companions.
Here’s the “rest of the story” as the famous saying goes.....
My bride and I have lived the Westminister show experience in person three times in the past few years. Yes, folks, we have been in the Big Apple to experience the magic of MSG, and additional exhibit venues, Piers 92 and 94, around Valentine’s Day, a trio of times recently. These certainly have been special visits to NYC because of the iconic dog show.
The first time we attended the historic event, we stayed immediately east across the street from MSG, in the massive Hotel Pennsylvania. Many of the dog owners, show dogs, and handlers stayed in the iconic hotel, too. My bride and I were able to sit in the old hotel lobby, or go downstairs into their basement, and observe the grooming, care, and get lots of behind-the-scenes insight surrounding the dogs. It was so educational and satisfying for us!
Possibly the biggest plus for dog lovers attending the annual Westminister show is the “benched” aspect of the event. Most dog shows are NOT benched, meaning the dog owners/handlers and their dogs, only have to be present on-site during the actual judging.
A very few select dog shows, including Westminister, allow the public access to the various facilities where the dogs are kept, early each morning of the two-day affair. The public is thus able to see the beautiful, well-behaved show animals in and out of their cages, and are able to ask the owner/handlers if you may touch/ pet their dogs. The responsible dog people almost always say “yes”, and the animals usually enjoy this added outside attention, too. It is also very easy to strike up conversations with the knowledgeable dog experts, and they usually will have answers to your questions about the breed they are showing. Remember, too, we are talking about almost 200 recognized American Kennel Club breeds, folks!
Also, the excitement of sometimes seeing 30 or more of the same breed (such as our beloved Pug!) all located in one location. is an awesome sight. This viewing, touching, feeling the beautiful dogs because of the “benched” format of the show, certainly isn’t something television viewers realize can happen to on-location attendees during this yearly event. The other absolute plus for attending the show is to see the large number of participating vendors that allow the ticket-holding public to walk through their advertising/educational booths. When you do this, you receive many goody samples of various dog products. We have almost had to purchase an extra suitcase each time just to transport home our additional “gifts” we received from the show vendors.
So, for many, many years, Ms. Debbie and I were merely annual TV watchers of the Westminister show. However, we are hoping to return soon to the Big Apple, and, once again, get totally caught up in the magic of the world’s greatest dog show, and the second oldest continuous sporting event in our nation;s history, following shortly after the famed Kentucky Derby.
Westminister ... what an experience.