The biggest dog show of the year is just around the corner. The 137th Westminster Dog Show... It is actually the largest dog show in the world and is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, just one year behind the Kentucky Derby! In a few days we will be traveling to New York to attend. We are thrilled to be able to go to Madison Square Garden on Monday, February 11th and Tuesday, February 12th to witness the top dogs in the American Kennel Club competing for Best in Show. On Monday morning the Labradors will be judged, and of course that will be the best part of all :-) That judging is usually left out of the televised schedule, but it is the shining moment for Lab lovers- like myself. Although Labrador Retrievers are the most represented breed in the AKC, one has never won Best in Show. Westminster has a fascinating history.
The Westminster Kennel Club has this to say about this iconic event in American history...
"Established in 1877, The Westminster Kennel Club is America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. There is only one Westminster, and in its long and prestigious existence, just about every superlative imaginable has been used to describe the club, the show and its impact on the world of purebred dogs. The Westminster Kennel Club "has had great effect in improving the quality of the dogs owned for use or companionship. Of this there can be no doubt ..." wrote one reporter. True then, true today.
Simply put, Westminster has become the symbol of the purebred dog, in show rings as well as in millions of television homes across America. The elegance, beauty and grace of the canine athletes combine with the excitement of the competition in the world's most famous sporting arena before a live national television audience. The result is an event that is the dog show world's version of the Super Bowl and Academy Awards. But even greater, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a celebration of the wonderful canine spirit, reflecting our emotional and spiritual attachment to our dogs.
It all began in 1877 when The Westminster Kennel Club was officially formed "...to increase the interest in dogs, and thus improve the breeds, and to hold an Annual Dog Show in the city of New York ..." (from Westminster By-Laws). By all accounts, that objective was accomplished from the very beginning.
From Forest and Stream magazine in 1877: "To say that the dog show held in the city last week was a success would but poorly convey an idea of what the result really was. It was a magnificent triumph for the dogs and for the projectors of the show. We question if on any previous occasion has there ever assembled in this city such a number of people at one time, and representing as much of the culture, wealth and fashion of the town. That such a collection of dogs was ever gotten together before in any country we very much doubt ..."
It is still the greatest collection of dogs assembled each year in the same place at the same time. From the opening moments when the 2,500-plus champions begin to compete in 162 different breed and variety rings, to the final crowning of the Best In Show dog, it is the great sport of dogs at its very best.
Westminster pre-dates the invention of the light bulb and the automobile, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Washington Monument, the invention of basketball and the establishment of the World Series. This makes me realize just how special our time will be as we attend this magnificent event! It means so much to those of us who love and adore dogs...