On your marc 5/22: Best in shows

I ’m going to revisit my Westminster Dog Show stories just so you’ll know I don’t dislike pets even though I’ve hardly ever owned one. Well, there was that dog, Scamp, my brothers and I had when I was a pre-teen. I believe it was a collie mix, and friends of my parents thought we […]

Westminster Dog Show reflections

By Marc Katz

I’m going to revisit my Westminster Dog Show stories just so you’ll know I don’t dislike pets even though I’ve hardly ever owned one.

Well, there was that dog, Scamp, my brothers and I had when I was a pre-teen. I believe it was a collie mix, and friends of my parents thought we needed a puppy.

When it grew big enough—in less than a year, I believe—to leap the four-foot fence in the back yard, Scamp had to go.

We gave him to a farmer, and not long after that, heard Scamp was killed in a
farming accident.

I think my two brothers and I cried a bit when we heard that, but then again, this wasn’t a long-time relationship, even though my wife Julie thinks it has led to some erratic behavior I exhibit today.

Most of my other dog encounters have been with the dogs of friends and frankly, being slobbered on is not much fun. Believe me, dogs know when you don’t want to be slobbered on. They always make sure they do, maybe as a punishment for not petting them enough.

One dog that nestled at my feet at a dinner was only a day away from being put down due to several medical infirmities. I called that dog, “Dead Dog Walking,” and wanted to know why the owners couldn’t have visited the vet a day sooner. They needed more of a mourning period, they said.

None of that really came to mind when I wrote once about the Westminster in the Dayton Daily News, chiding that the resulting two-day television broadcast had nothing to do with sports but was more in line with a beauty pageant.

I’m sure the president would agree.

But Julie read the column and was determined to make a trip to New York to find out what the show was about.

I went along, thinking since it was in Madison Square Garden, at least there had been some sporting events in the place, depending on how you feel abut the Knicks
and Rangers.

As you may already know, Madison Square Garden is not my favorite arena. Its website claims, “Unforgettable Starts here.” I’m good with that. Especially the unforgettable smells, which make having a dog show there perfect.

I remember covering the NIT once and sniffing what smelled like manure. It was. Elephant manure. The week before, the circus had been in town and nobody had time to clean up the place. This was before elephants were banned from the circus, after which the circus died.

The manure was shoveled into a corner—near the media room of course—so who could tell what really smelled worse?

Which reminds me of the University of Colorado, where I covered a 1985 football game between the Buffaloes and Ohio State.

That game was made memorable when one of the student handlers who helped Ralphie lead the Colorado team on the field prior to the game, slipped, and refused to let go of the rope as Ralphie galloped to the other end of the field and back.

Ralphie was the second (of now five) Buffalo pet mascots Colorado uses at its games. He really has nothing to do with the dog show, but since we were talking about smells, I thought of what it might smell like to be around Ralphie. I never left the press box to find out. But I can still see that kid falling and the 1,000-pound or so buffalo dragging him along the turf.

I’ve read where buffalo can run up to about 25 mph.

Okay, the dog show.

Look, it was fun, and you get to see everything, even the grooming part. It did not appear as if any of the dogs were on performance enhancing drugs. The show is so big now, much of it—not the televised part—is a short cab or subway ride away, at the piers by the Hudson River.

There is also a market place area, and if there is an item to sell relating to dogs, that’s where you’ll find it.

I mean, every single piece of human or dog clothing has a picture of a dog on it. Every cup, pencil, door stop, bucket, book, painting, keychain—everything that can sustain the imprint of a dog face, can be found at this show.

My wife and I never bought a thing, but it was fun to browse.

It was also fun to watch the show, although I hesitate to call it an athletic event. A Bichons Frise won this year, by the way. Bichons Frise is French for small, fluffy dog
(I’m guessing).

By the way, we went twice to the dog show. If you go next year, the dates are February 11-12. As much fun as it was, I’m not sure I’d go again, but I’ll see you on TV.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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