Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW

Today is Valentine's Day, but I'm not going to talk about that.  Instead, I'm going to talk about the Westminster Dog Show, which is the biggest and most important dog show in the U.S., and it always happens at this time of year in New York City.

Best of Breed Basenji, GiGi

Yesterday the basenjis were judged, and the basenji that won Best of Breed (BOB) was GCH Signet Meisterhaus Gossip Girl, whose call name is GiGi.  We watched a video on the internet, and we saw the judging for BOB, so that's how we already knew who the winning basenji was.  And guess what, the handler for this basenji was Erin Roberts, who was Gabe's breeder.  Gabe called her "Mama Erin," but I just call her "Aunt Erin" because she is not my breeder.  Anyway, Aunt Erin is a professional dog handler, so we usually see her when we watch Westminster and sometimes if we watch other dog shows on TV.  Besides handling basenjis, Aunt Erin also handles affenpinschers and mastiffs and schipperkes and probably some other breeds.

Anyway, last night we watched the Hound Group on TV, and we wanted GiGi to win, but sadly, she didn't even make the cut.  So after that, we were rooting for the whippet, and the whippet at least got Group 3.  But the winner of the Hound Group was the wire-haired dachshund.  Later on, we saw Aunt Erin showing an Italian Greyhound which was a very pretty dog, but it didn't win anything in the Toy Group.  And after that, we saw her showing a schipperke, but it didn't win anything either.  A German Shepherd won the Herding Group, which made Barry happy because he thinks it is very likely a distant relative of his.

Tonight we will watch the show again, and we will see the rest of the groups and then the Best in Show (BIS) competition, which is when the winner of each group comes out in the ring, and one of them wins a huge silver cup that looks like it would make an excellent water bowl, plus also a bunch of ribbons which I think would probably be fun to chew up.


This year's Westminster Dog Show is the 136th one, which makes it the second-oldest sporting event in the country, after the Kentucky Derby, which is only one year older.  And now I will tell you how it all got started.  Way back in 1876 or maybe even before that, a bunch of men used to get together in a bar in the Westminster Hotel in Manhattan, and they liked to talk about hunting and about their hunting dogs.  So after a while, they decided to form a club, and they named it the Westminster Breeding Association.

In 1876, this new club helped put on a dog show in Philadelphia, where there was a big Centennial Exposition going on.  This show was a huge success, so the Westminster club decided to have a show of their very own, where they could compare their hunting dogs.  And they changed their name to the Westminster Kennel Club.


The next year, in 1877, the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs was held by the Westminster Kennel Club in the Hippodrome at Gilmore's Garden in New York City.  There were 1,201 dogs entered in this show with an entry fee of $2 each, which included feed and care of the dog.  In the catalog, each dog was listed as either "not for sale" or with a price in a range from $50 to $10,000.

Back in the days when the Westminster Kennel Club started holding annual dog shows, light bulbs hadn't even been invented yet, and neither had automobiles.  This was also before the Brooklyn Bridge or the Washington Monument was built or before basketball was invented.  It was even before the American Kennel Club was founded, which happened in 1884.

CH Warren Remedy, who won BIS the first three
years the prize was given


Anyway, the Westminster show kept on growing every year, and it is still the biggest group of dogs all together at one time.  There is now a limit of 2,500 entries, with 173 different breeds.  Starting in 1992, only dogs who have already won the title of Champion can be entered at Westminster.  And if you win BIS one year, there is no rule that says you can't enter again the next year.  But there has not been a repeat winner since 1972.

Basenjis were first shown at Westminster in 1946.  No basenjis have ever won BIS, and only one has won First in the Hound Group, which was in 1972.  In general, the Hound Group doesn't get to win BIS very often, like it's only happened 5 times since 1907, which is the year the prize started being given out.  But that's still better than the Herding Group, which has only won BIS one time.  On the other hand, Terriers have won 45 times, which seems totally unfair.  I think that judges just like terriers better because they are feisty and have cute little beards.

2010 BIS Winner,
CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot

The next best group for producing BIS winners is the Sporting Group, where there have been 19, then the Working Group with 15, the Non-Sporting Group with 10, and the Toy Group with 9.  The breed that has won BIS the most often is the Wire Fox Terrier.  They have won it 13 times, and Scotties have won 8 times.  And two breeds that have never won, even though they are very popular breeds, are the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever.  So you can see just how totally unfair it all is.

2011 BIS Winner
GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind

But we still like to watch anyway, because we see breeds that we have hardly ever heard of, which would make them good topics to write about in my blog someday.  And another thing that makes Westminster fun to watch is when something unexpected happens, like for instance last year, when a Scottish Deerhound won Best in Show.  Her name was GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, and she was the first Deerhound ever to win at Westminster.  And after she won, she retired and became a mama dog, and on TV last night, they showed her puppies, which were really cute.  But Mom said we couldn't have one because -- well, because of all the usual reasons.

9 comments:

  1. Dear Piper, I just stumbled onto your site. It's wonderful. I am the mom to a beautiful 7 year old basenji named Cleo. She's a tri-color. I went back through your archives a bit and was fascinated by your topics! I'll be bookmarking your page and checking in again. I would, however, like to read more about you, though. For instance, do you have any habits that drive your mom crazy? My Cleo loves to eat tissue and toilet paper and strew little pieces of it throughout the house. How about you? -- Thanks again for a great site! -- Jean

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    1. Dear Aunt Jean,
      Thank you for stumbling onto my blog and then writing a comment to say that you like it! Your basenji girl Cleo sounds like she would be lots of fun to know, plus a True Basenji because she likes to tear up toilet paper and tissues. I never mess with toilet paper, myself, and the reason is because I don't like to go in the bathroom. I am afraid that if I go in there, Mom might get the idea that I should have a BATH, and I HATE baths, so it's safer just to stay out of the bathroom! My basenji brother, Gabe, who is now at the Rainbow Bridge, used to unroll the TP from the bathroom into the bedroom. I hope there is TP at the Rainbow Bridge, so he can still have fun doing that.

      Anyway, what I do that drives my mom nuts is I chew up dog beds and blankets and stuff like that. One time I got part of a blanket stuck inside me. You can read all about this little incident if you go back to April 2, 2011 in my blog and start reading there. Also if you read some of my very earliest blog entries, you will learn more about me. I really like to write about myself because I am so fascinating, but sometimes I run out of stuff to say, and then I have to write about other topics!

      Your friend,
      Piper

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    2. Dear Piper - ah, my Cleo likes to tear up things, too. She once destroyed a training lead that a dog trainer "loaned" to us. We had to buy a whole new kit to replace it. She also knows how to step on the pedal of a covered trash can so she can open it and extract used tissues - ew, gross. Based on your letter, I think I need to go back and read from the beginning! (BTW - have you tried nice warm showers instead of baths, Cleo loves them - she too does not like the bath. Her dad gets in with her and they both have a nice warm clean up.) -- Thanks, again -- "Aunt" Jean

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  2. Dear Piper,
    I love that they put a basenji on a dog show, maybe you could be on a dog show too! But I guess they have to know if you're a pure bred or not but who cares? You might win anyway! Anyways, basenjis are the best breed of dog!

    Your bunny friend,

    Fluffy

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    1. Dear Fluffy,
      There are almost always basenjis in dog shows, but most dog shows aren't on TV. I would not be allowed to be a show dog because I am not registered with the American Kennel Club or with any other group, at least as far as I know. And anyway, Mom says that if I were a show girl, all that fame would probably go to my head! LOL But you are right in saying that basenjis are the best. That is a very true statement, and I totally agree with it!
      Your friend, Piper

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  3. Piper,
    This is an awesome post! Thank you so much for it! I hadn't ever read into the history of Westminster, even though I love watching the show every year. I can't believe that the terriers have won 45 times. That is so crazy, even though they are cute little guys.

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    1. Dear Food Fan Frank,
      I'm really glad you read my blog post and liked it! I think the terriers keep winning because they have those cute little beards, like I said. Either that, or they are slipping some $$$ to the judges under the table while they are up there being examinined! Hahaha!

      Your friend, Piper
      P.S. I like your name. I'm a big fan of food, too!

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  4. Piper,
    Yes, haha I am fairly certain that it must be the cute little beards. I actually have a parson russell, but she is only very lightly broken, and has the tiniest little beard on her snout (more like a little moustache, it's so small!) But is is pretty cute I must admit. I also have a papillon though, and have owned many other breeds in the past, including a basenji! :) Food and Dogs... My entire life, haha.
    Frank

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