Among the traditional perks of winning Westminster’s Best in Show are a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and going to Sardi’s in Manhattan for a steak.
You’d think that last one, at least, would appeal to the average dog — and especially to the pampered pooches that strut before the judges every year at the Westminster Dog Show.
But Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound chosen as Best in Show this week, had virtually no interest in the juicy filet, prepared medium rare, sliced into bite-sized chunks and placed in front of her at Sardi’s. She took only a taste or two before ignoring it entirely.
As her trainer pointed out, there were lots of lights, and hordes of media, and Hickory’s never been real big on steak in the first place.
You could view it as a photo op turned photo flop, but I kind of like the fact that she turned up her scruffy nose at the offering.
In light of all the human control inflicted on dogs during dogs shows, not to mention throughout history, I like seeing, for some reason, a little canine independence and rebelliousness exhibited in that setting. Of course, I don’t know what Hickory was thinking when that juicy red meat was set before her, but I like to think it was this:
Two hundred people have gathered, pulled up in their news vans, and started their cameras rolling, and are lined up outside – all to watch me eat a steak? OK, then, I’m not going to do it.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american kennel club, animals, best in show, dog show, empire state building, hickory, new york stock exchange, nyse, perks, pets, purebreds, sardis, scottish deerhound, westminster, westminster dog show, winner
It was the breed’s first best in show win at Westminster.
Hickory — full name Foxcliffe Hickory Wind – beat out the other finalists: a Pekingese, a Shar-pei, a bearded collie, a black cocker spaniel, a Portuguese water dog and a smooth fox terrier.
“Over the moon,” is how owner Cecilia Dove described the win. “This is the first deerhound to ever win at the Garden. She’s in an elite group of one. ”
Hickory’s best in show comes after finishing third in her group last year, which her handler, Angela Lloyd blamed on big-city jitters. ”This dog isn’t used to cities or venues this size. It is used to chasing squirrels and deer all day on a big farm,” she said.
Hickory lives on Dove’s farm, outside Warrenton, Va.
“She’s got everything,” Paolo Dondina, a judge from Monterchi, Italy, said after picking Hickory. “The movement, the presence. It’s a dog for the big show.”
Hickory, according to Bloomberg.com, is named after a bluegrass song by John Duffey. Hickory succeeds Sadie, a black Scottish terrier who won Westminster last year.
About 2,600 canines from 179 breeds competed in the two-day event.
The Scottish deerhound breed dates to the 16th century, when it was used for pursuing and killing deer, and could be owned by “no one of rank lower than an earl,” according to the American Kennel Club website.
Lloyd, Hickory’s handler, said the 5-year-old, 85-pound dog loves the spotlight.
“She’s constantly making sure she’s getting attention,” Lloyd said.
Like all Westminster winners, she’ll be getting plenty of that in the days ahead, before retiring to Dove’s farm in Virginia.
Here’s a video of her first round win — she’s the third one to strut — over two other Scottish deerhounds.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bearded collie, best in show, breeds, cecilia dove, cocker spaniel, dog show, dogs, finalists, foxcliffe hickory wind, hickory, kennel club, madison square garden, pekingese, pets, portuguese water dog, results, scottish deerhound, shar-pei, shows, smooth fox terrier, virginia, westminster, westminster kennel club
If the following take on Westminster reads like its coming from some PETA hothead that’s because it is.
Then agains, hotheads are sometimes worth listening to.
Lindsay Pollard-Post is a staff writer for The PETA Foundation, and her remarks appeared in the form of a guest column in the Sacramento Bee.
Pollard-Post recounts watching Westminster in her youth, usually with a bad case of strep throat, and with her dog Katie at her side…
“But had I known then that Westminster – and the dog-breeding industry that it props up – share the blame for the mutilation and deaths of millions of dogs each year, I would have changed the channel faster than you can say ‘Sesame Street.’
“Back then, I had no idea that the snub-nosed bulldogs and pugs prancing around the ring may have been gasping for breath the whole time because these breeds’ unnaturally shortened airways make exercise and sometimes even normal breathing difficult. I didn’t know that the “wiener dogs” that made me laugh as their little legs tried to keep up may have eventually suffered from disc disease or other back problems because dachshunds are bred for extremely long spinal columns. I didn’t learn until much later that because of inbreeding and breeding for distorted physical features, approximately one in four purebred dogs suffers from serious congenital disorders such as crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems and epilepsy.
“I remember feeling shocked when I learned that Doberman pinschers’ ears naturally flop over, and that their ears only stand up because they are cut and bound with tape when the dogs are puppies. And I felt sick to my stomach when I discovered that cocker spaniels have beautiful, long, flowing tails, but American Kennel Club breed standards call for their tails to be amputated down to nubs. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that these procedures ‘are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient’ and they ’cause pain and distress.’
“… Like many people, I hadn’t made the connection that every time someone buys a purebred dog from a breeder or a pet store, a dog in a shelter – a loving animal whose life depends on being adopted – loses his or her chance at a home …
“Dog shows also encourage viewers to go out and buy purebred dogs like the ones they see on TV from breeders or pet stores. This impulse buying robs shelter dogs of homes, and even more dogs end up homeless when overwhelmed people discover that the adorable puppy they bought ruins carpets, needs expensive vaccinations and food and requires their constant attention.
“My own parents succumbed to the lure of purebreds: They purchased Katie from a breeder. Katie was an exceptional dog and my best friend, but it saddens me to think that other loving dogs waiting behind bars in shelters missed out on a good home because we thought we needed a certain breed of puppy.
“Thankfully, some things have changed. After Katie passed away, my parents adopted a lovable mutt from the local shelter. I haven’t had strep throat since I was a teenager. And if the dreaded illness strikes again, you’ll find me cuddling on the couch with my rescued dog, Pete, watching movies – not Westminster.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, american kennel club, animals, appearance, back, breeding, bulldogs, congenital, criticism, dachshunds, disease, disorders, distorted, docking, dog shows, dogs, ears, features, hip, homeless, impulse buys, inbreeding, kennel club, leg, mutts, pets, physical, problems, purebreds, shelters, tails, westminster
A friend sent me this photo, taken at the Barnes & Noble in Towson, which shows “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” getting some pretty decent display (at least better than the bottom shelf of the astronomy section, as was the case at an area bookstore that shall remain nameless).
I can think of no other sign I would like my book to be under — except maybe ”New York Times Bestseller.”
Alas, it’s not there yet, but it did rate the “Page 99 Test,” a website by Marshal Zeringue dedicated to the proposition that the quality of a book can be judged by turning to, and reading, its 99th page.
I lucked out in that page 99 of “DOG, INC.” contains a revelation — namely who it was that located Genelle Guzman, the last survivor found after 9/11, and held her hand until she could be freed from the mound of debris she was trapped under.
(Clue: It wasn’t the volunteer firefighters who took credit for rescuing her on CNN)
If you’re wondering what this has to do with cloning dogs, you can click the link to Marshal’s blog or, better yet, buy the book and allow your thoughts — and perhaps more — to be provoked.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, animals, author, barnes & noble, best in show, book, books, bookstores, cnn, display, dog books, dog cloning, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, firefighters, genelle guzman, genelle guzman-mcmillan, ground zero, john woestendiek, last, marshal zeringue, new york, page 99, pets, rescue, revelation, sales, sign, signs, survivor, thought provoking, towson, westminster, world trade center
After PETA’s protest at Westminster, The New York Times posed a timely and interesting question yesterday: Should the buyers and owners of purebred dogs feel guilty — given the number of dogs euthanized in shelters and the abuses that continue in purebred breeding?
Then they bounced that question off four experts on dogs and their place in society.
The responses are well worth reading in their entirety, but here’s the overly condensed version:
Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society:
The only truly guilt-free purebred dog is one acquired from a shelter or breed rescue group … What’s an exploitive breeder? Any breeder that can’t provide a loving, in-home environment for a pregnant bitch, and a safe home environment surrounded by loving people for new born puppies, is exploitive. Anyone who breeds as a business rather than for the love of the breed is exploitive.
Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of ”The Intelligence of Dogs,” “How Dogs Think” and more:
Nearly 40 percent of dogs do not make it through their first year with their first owner, and instead are returned to their breeder, given to a shelter, euthanized or abandoned, according to statistics gathered by the U.S. Humane Society … The advantage of purebred dogs is that they provide us with some level of predictability.
Mark Derr, author of “A Dog’s History of America” and “Dog’s Best Friend”:
This need to find “unspoiled” or rare breeds is tied not only to a desire for the next “hot” dog but also recognition that purebred dogs for all their beauty or uniqueness often have multiple genetic problems that are as much a result of the way they are bred as are their appearance and talents … But with purebred dogs accounting for 25 percent of those in shelters and countless more with dedicated breed rescue groups, virtue would appear to lie in giving a dog a home.
Ted Kerasote, author of “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog”:
Dividing the world into those who should feel guilty for owning a pedigreed pooch and those who can feel self-righteous for rescuing a mutt does little to solve the two major challenges domestic dogs face today: careless breeding and an antiquated shelter system … Assigning blame to one or the other won’t do much to bring more genetic diversity into the world of purebred dogs or help shelters operate in more diverse and life-saving ways. Nor does instigating guilt give the slightest nod toward the magic that happens when a person and a dog, purebred or not, fall in love.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, authors, best friends animal society, breeders, breeding, breeds, dog, dog books, dogs, euthanized, experts, francis battista, guilt, industry, mark derr, mutts, new york times, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, pets, purebreds, shelter, stanley coren, ted kerasote, university of british columbia, westminster
Here’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.
Breed: Scottish Terrier
AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)
Age: 4 years
Residence: Rialto, California
Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.
Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.
Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.
Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill
Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.
Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.
Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.
Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.
Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, beauty, best in show, california, dog show, dogs, exercise, family, fetish, grooming, habits, mercedes of maryscot, owner, pets, purebred, rialto, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, shoes, statistics, trainer, treats, vital, westminster, westminster dog show
Sadie, a four-year-old Scottish terrier, was named best in show at Westminster, beating out 2,500 entrants at the 134-year-old dog show.
“She’s the total package,” said Elliot Weiss, of Eagle, Idaho, who judged the Best in Show round before a cheering, capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden. “This is the complete dog … That’s what you want a Scottie to look like.”
Sadie went into the competition as a favorite of both oddsmakers and experts, having won both the National Dog Show in suburban Philadelphia in November and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December.
Unlike in recent years, when relatively unknown crowd favorites Uno, a beagle, and Stump, an aging Sussex spaniel, captured top honors, this year’s best in show was no surprise.
On Tuesday, the loudest cheers were for a sleek Doberman Pinscher and a French Bulldog whose mugging won the crowd over, Reuters reported.
The final round of judging was disrupted when two female protesters strode out to the winner’s circle and held up signs, including one reading “Mutts rule,” a reference to the “Dogs rule” ad campaign that has run throughout the competition. The protesters were removed by security.
Terriers are the winningest group in WKC history, having won nearly half the events throughout the club’s history. Sadie also made last year’s Best in Show round. The WKC was her 112th Best in Show and the eighth Westminster Kennel Club victory for a Scottie.
This year’s competition saw 2,500 entrants representing 173 breeds and varieties. Other breeds vying for the big prize on Tuesday were a toy Poodle, a Puli, a Whippet and a Brittany.
Handler Gabriel Rangel said Sadie was “a very happy dog. She always enjoys herself. Nobody ever tells her ‘no.’
Posted by John Woestendiek February 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 134th, 2010, animals, best in show, breeds, competition, contest, disrupted, dog, dogs, favorite, judges, judging, new york, pets, protest, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, show, top dog, westminster, wins
The primp is on.
The 134th Westminster Dog Show got underway yesterday at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Here’s some video of dogs getting prepped for the big show. For a nice series of behind the scenes photos, check out the Los Angeles Times “Unleashed” blog.
Tonight, the show will be televised from 8 to 11 p.m. on the USA Network.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, best in show, dog, dog show, dogs, madiosn square garden, new york, pets, purebred, schedule, televised, television, usa network, video, westminster
The 134th Westminster Dog Show kicks off today in Madison Square Garden, with 173 breeds — including three newly recognized by the American Kennel Club — competing for the honor of best in show.
“The most prestigious event on the thoroughbred canine calendar” is how the New York Times characterized the show in an article this weekend — and one in which bucks and hype play large roles in determining the winner:
“Among breeders, owners and handlers, it’s understood: you can’t just turn up with the paradigm of the breed, if such an animal exists, and expect a best-in-show ribbon. To seriously vie for victory, a dog needs what is known as a campaign: an exhausting, time-consuming and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle.”
Breeders will commonly spend $100,000 a year on ads touting their dog, and that’s just part of the investment.
“Altogether, a top-notch campaign can easily cost more than $300,000 a year, and because it takes time to build momentum and a reputation, a typical campaign lasts for two or three years. Kathy Kirk, who handled Rufus, a colored bull terrier who won best in show at Westminster in 2006, estimates that the dog’s three-year campaign cost about $700,000,” the article said.
Among the 2,500 dogs hoping to follow in Rufus’ footsteps will be some from three newly recognized breeds, competing for the first time — the Irish Red and White Setter joins the Sporting Group; and the Norwegian Buhund and the Pyrenean Shepherd debut in the Herding Group.
Despite its name, the Irish Red and White Setter (above) is a distinct breed, not just a different colored version of the Irish Setter. Bred primarily for the field, they are strong, powerful and athletic, with a keen and intelligent attitude.
The Norwegian Buhund (left) once the companion of Vikings, is a versatile farm dog == black or cream colored — from Norway, where they’ve been used to herd livestock, guard property and hunt game.
The Pyrenean Shepherd (left again) is also known by its French name, Berger des Pyrénées, but fanciers of the breed in America often shorten the name to “Pyr shep.” Native to the mountains of southern France, the breed has guarded sheep since medieval times.
The three new breeds will be represented by 29 individual dogs in the show. The newcomers bring this year’s show total to 173 breeds and varieties, up from about 150 two decades ago.
Here’s the TV schedule
Monday, February 15
Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups
8-9 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network
9-11 p.m. (ET) live on CNBC
Tuesday, February 16
Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, Best In Show
8-11 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network
Breed judging highlight videos are available throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday at the Westminster website.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 134th, advertising, akc, american kennel club, best in show, breeds, bull terrier, campaign, cnbc, dog show, fufus, hype, investment, irish red and white setter, money, new, norwegian buhund, purebreds, pyrenean shepherd, recognized, schedule, tv, usa, usa network, westminster
What do some Westminster show dogs have in common with some drug dealers’ attack dogs?
They’ve been debarked.
The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New York Times reported this week.
There are no reliable figures on how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, but veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can be found in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.
David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, acknowledged that some show dogs have the operation. “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries,” he said.
Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds, and some states have banned it, except for therapeutic reasons, including New Jersey. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.
In the surgery, vets anesthetize the dog before cutting its vocal cords, either through the mouth or through an incision in the larynx. Dogs generally recover quickly, veterinarians say, and while they usually can still make sounds, their barks become muffled and raspy.
But Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, said the procedure can lead to complications, such as excess scar tissue building up in the throat of dogs, making it difficult to breathe.
Ellison said the procedure is no longer taught at the University of Florida’s veterinary school.
Banfield, the Pet Hospital, with more than 750 veterinary practices across the country, formally banned the surgery last summer.
“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done “after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american veterinary medical association, avma, banfield, banned, bark, barking, cut, debarked, debarking, dogs, inhumane, jeffrey s. klausner, massachusetts, new jersey, new york times, outdated, problems, proposal, scar tissue, show dogs, surgery, surgical procedure, university of florida, veterinarian, veterinary, veterinary school, vocal cords, westminster