Thursday, March 5, 2015

Best in Show 2015

There was no question of who let the dogs out as hundreds of breeds lined up to strut their stuff in the 139th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The rounds took place in New York City from February, 16- 17, 2015 at both Chelsea Piers and Madison Square Garden. After what I could only imagine was a long and exhausting two days for both the dogs and their handlers, seven finalists remained: Miss P the Beagle, Charlie the Skye Terrier, Rocket the Shih Tzu, Flame the Standard Poodle, Liz the English Springer Spaniel, Swagger the Old English Sheepdog, and Matisse the Portuguese Water Dog, who all dogged it out for the coveted Best in Show title.

Swagger, a Crowd Favorite 

On Tuesday night each dog showed off their stuff, strutted around the arena, and wagged their tails, hoping to make one last impression on the judge. As the dogs took the stage one last time, it was clear there was a crowd favorite, Swagger the Old English Sheepdog. As his name would suggest, Swagger emitted a definite “swagger” and confidence as he pranced around the floor, his glistening coat bouncing from side to side.

Flame Shows off Her Legs for the Judge

As the show progressed, I could hear many conversations going on around me among the dog loving crowd. People were commenting on their favorite aspects of each dog and who they thought was going to take home best in show. Although the crowd definitely had its favorites, to me each dog was cuter than the next and they all looked like winners. Alas, it was time for the winner to be announced. In judging dogs, the judge has to be able to evaluate the dogs based on a specific set of criteria and must be very familiar with the standards and qualities of each particular dog breed.

Charlie the Skye Terrier is All Smiles
While I am an avid dog lover, I will admit I didn't know much about the dog show criteria, and became extremely curious as to how one pup was deemed more perfect than the next, so I turned to Google. For those not familiar with dog judging, each breed has a standard, a written description of the ideal specimen of that breed. Usually those standards relate to appearance, movement, temperament, and specific physical traits. So basically the judging comes down to two things, the written “dog law” and a little bit of judge’s bias.

Miss P is Still in Shock Over Her Win 

It was time for the winner to be announced, and it was definitely hard for the judge not to be persuaded by the crowds favorites. In the end, Miss P, a 15-inch beagle hailing from Canada, took home Best in Show. Beagles are not your usual Best in Show winners, and Miss P is just the second Beagle to win the show (Uno won in 2008). Miss P, whose full name is Ch Tashtins Lookin For Trouble, was crowned due to a combination of irresistible cuteness and his near perfect characteristics of a Beagle specimen.

All Photos:Dee McMeekan/For Sports Illustrated