Last night I spent my Valentine’s Day alone with some of my closest canine friends at the 141st Westminster Dog Show. This was the second night I’d made my way over to Madison Square Garden to look at the nation’s top pooches, and because I hadn’t been to the competition in a few years, I had forgotten how…enthusiastic people can be about dogs. For example, as I ate a romantic dinner for one consisting of a Bud Light and a 1/4lb hot dog, the couple next to me loudly rooted for the Cocker Spaniel contestants. Another man screamed, “DO-BER-MANS!” when it came time to look at a Doberman. There is something both endearing and unsettling about such unbridled gusto, and I wavered between feeling amusement and fear.
Behind the scenes, the dogs were all getting primped and prepped while fans took selfies and handlers (sometimes begrudgingly) looked on. Some of the dogs seemed to know they were born champions, while others looked like they would prefer to be swimming in piranha-infested waters. I briefly imagined setting the more tired and/or depressed-looking ones free so that they might feel the joy of rolling around in the mud and chasing the rats and pigeons of NYC, but then I remembered that they probably eat better than I do, and so the plan (which was never really a plan) was nixed.
I switched back and forth between this beauty pageant green room situation and the stadium, and eventually, a German Shepherd named Rumor won Best in Show. (Rumor has it, if you will.) I am not sure how the losers’ owners felt after all was said and done. I hope they all went back and said, “Listen, you did your best and I love you no matter what. All that matters is that you hopefully had fun.” (I also hope that they all know that I personally felt like a winner for having been allowed near so many dogs at the same time, but honestly, they probably DGAF.)
Here are some photos // stay tuned for video action tomorrow: