What’s it like to go to the Westminster Dog Show?

Posted on 2 min read 173 views
Madison Square Garden Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Up high above the arena floor, there’s no wondering where you are.

Every so often, we go a bit off-topic here. This time, we’re off to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for both day and night.  From horses to dogs usually isn’t a stretch. Do you watch the dog show on TV? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be there?

New York city is close enough to be a day trip for me. Until this year, my travel buddy Sheryl and I went up for day judging and return home. This year, we decided to stay in the city for the evening programs.

TV gets up you up close and personal to the competition action, but the cameras don’t show you all the fun little details.

Unlike what you see on TV at night, the day classes are held in smaller rings and spectators can sit or stand right at ringside. Access is also close-up in the Benching area, a dog show’s version of the barns, where the dogs stay on the days of their classes and are groomed before our eyes.

Back where the magic happens, where family pets turn into models. The benching area at Pier 94 during Breeds judging at Westminster.
Back where the magic happens, where family pets turn into models. The benching area at Pier 94 during Breeds judging at Westminster.


This year, the set-up this year was  a little different. Instead of all judging being held at Madison Square Garden, the Breeds judging went uptown to Piers 92 and 94. Shuttle buses took spectators, staff and even competing dogs from the MSG area up to the daytime classes. Evening events, like Group judging and Best in Show stayed at the Garden.

Here are things I saw

  • All the Westminster branding – the purple velvet ropes marking off the breeds judging rings, the purple and gold signs, the Westminster Kennel Club logo embossed on the brass finials on the rope stanchions.
  • How the floor team changes over the group judging on the floor by pulling up a hollow box.
Changing the floor plan for Groups Judging
Change-o, presto! The floor team changes the markers for the Groups to be judged during commercial breaks.
  • TV viewers remarked on Facebook about handlers biting off a bit of doggie treat, taking it from their own mouths and giving it to their dog. But I saw a handler drop a cookie, pick it up and then bite off a piece to give to the dog.
  • A happy dog in the breeds judging recognized a favorite human, only to leap over the purple velvet rope after her.
  • The sign language led her section of the audience through the singing of The National Anthem before the show.
  • A street musician outside Madison Square Garden played “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” on his flute.
  • The official show photographer took a photo of the winners of veterinary school scholarships by throwing a squeak toy up in the air at them, just like he did with the champion dogs.
  • During breeds judging during the day, you can get this close:
Waiting at Ringside
A Greater Swiss Mountain Dog focuses on a treat from the handler as he waits his turn during Breeds Judging.




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