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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's a Dog's Life: Day 1 at Westminster

Jewel strutting her stuff
Yeah, I fancy myself to be primarily a sports blogger.  But, even back in the old days of the original Banshee Blog, dog show posts have always been among the most popular and anticipated columns of the year.  On Monday night, the 137th edition of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show got under way in Madison Square Garden.  Best in Breed awards were handed out throughout the afternoon.  When the bright lights of primetime turned on, it was time to award the Best in Group in four of the seven groups.  The live announcer in the Garden sounded significantly less drunk than in past years, but Mary Carillo was as delightfully awkward as always.

Hound Group:  As always, the hounds were the first group to enter the show ring.  This is one of the most difficult groups for the lay person (like me) to wrap their mind around because it features huge dogs like the Irish Wolfhound and short little dogs like the Dachshund.  On this night, it was a very traditional looking American Foxhound named Jewel that won the group and advanced to tomorrow night's Best in Show.


Toy Group: The next group was the Toy Group.  Most of these dogs look like what the group name would imply.  These dogs are bred to be companions and lap dogs and really nothing else.  Banana Joe the Affenpinscher fit the bill perfectly and won the group.  In case you were wondering, "affenpinscher" means "monkey face" in German.  After being named Best in Group, Banana Joe stumbled a bit during his victory lap when his hind legs appeared to slip out from under him.  But, all evidence suggests that the little dog should still be 100% for Tuesday night's Best in Show competition.

Honor
Non-Sporting:  This group is basically a catch-all group.  Originally, the WKC was divided into only two groups:  The Sporting and the Non-Sporting.  Over the years, the other groups broke off into their own categories.  The dogs that were left make up the current members of the Non-Sporting group.  That results in a wide variety of pooches in this category.  In a minor upset, Honor, the Bichon Frise defeated the defending group champion Ian the Dalmation and took home the title of Best in Group.

Swagger
Herding:  The dogs in this group are obviously bred for a specific purpose.  As a result, some of the most athletic and intelligent dogs in the entire competition are in this group.  So, the appearance of the group's winner may come as a bit of a surprise.  Swagger, the Old English Sheepdog, looks neither athletic nor wise.  Swagger's victory came as a surprise to the experts.  At only 20 months old, Swagger was a relative unknown heading into Westminster.


The competition resumes on Tuesday afternoon with more Best in Breed competitions.  The conclusion of the show will take place on Tuesday night when Best in Group will be awarded in the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups.  The competition will conclude with the awarding of the coveted Best in Show title.  The festivities will be shown on USA Network starting at 8:00 p.m.


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