The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the big night of the dog show circuit in New York, when the big and the good – and even some celebrities – enter Madison Square Garden with their best furs, with their hair combed for it, everyone they're ready to see and be seen.
Human beings will also be there, of course.
But Tuesday night is all about dogs. It is when a field with more than 2,600 entries is cut to seven finalists and then to just one, who receives a huge ribbon and a silver cup in which, depending on the race, he may or may not fit.
How to watch: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the last three group competitions starting at 7:30 pm Eastern time on Tuesday. These three winners, and the four winners of the Monday night group, will compete for the best show. This trial will probably start at around 10:30 pm.
The Times will provide live coverage and analysis (well, amateur analysis) starting at 7:30 pm. Until then, just relax:
First: The Sporting Group
We are underway at the Garden with the request: "We can have the sports group on the floor!"
Andy: While some races seem a little bit precious, the sports group looks like a lot of Everymen and Everywomen to me every year. Do you accept?
Sarah: "Sporting" is a close approximation of what these dogs do, Andy. According to Westminster, they are known "for their instincts in the water and in the forest and are generally naturally active, alert and have stable temperaments". I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm out there, despite the lack of water, forests and, well, sports. We have some lifters; we have some spaniels; there are some stoves; has a glimpse.
Andy: At the moment, I'm happy that Gordon Setter is playing in Switzerland between the English and Irish Setters. In the Brexit era, you can't take any chances.
Sarah: I heard those dogs arguing about the EU. and the customs union just a few minutes ago.
Andy: Well, with 33 dogs in the sports group, we know one thing: it will end on license 32, stay 1.
Veterinarians? Yes. Massage therapists for dogs? Yes, too.
Jan Hoffman of The Times peered behind the dog show curtain and discovered a real medical army available to meet the needs of competitors: health and wellness specialists, canine acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors and veterinarians.
"Westminster is famous as a spectacular dog gathering, with all the people and products present in the canine beauty contest: sprays, mousses, gels, conditioners, stylers, straighteners, bows, hair implants (I'm looking at you, Standard Poodles!) and mascara (shake your eyelashes a lot, Papillon?).
But in recent years, Westminster has added competitions in agility and obedience, events that attract a very different crowd – dog dogs and their humans. ("Vanish is not just a Barbie collie," said Aaron Kirzner of his border collie, who is a champion of breed and agility.) "
Read the rest of Jan's story here.
Who won last year?
King, a wire fox terrier, won the best show award in 2019, but not everyone was thrilled. "Boos and grumbles filled Madison Square Garden when the judge handed King the coveted tin cup," wrote the New York Times at the time. Part of this may have been terrestrial fatigue: of the 112 best titles in award-winning shows in Westminster, 47 – more than 40% – were won by the terrier group. Wire fox terriers have won 15 times, plus any other breed.
Is there a favorite?
There are show favorites and crowd favorites, and these are not always the same races. Golden retrievers and Labradors, for example, are two of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, and are favorites of the Garden crowd year after year, but neither won the best show in Westminster.
"If you had a popularity contest, we would win," said Christine Miele, Eastern vice president of the Golden Retriever Club of America, The Times' Liam Stack last year.
On Monday night, the loudest applause used to be reserved for the cutest, furiest and more cute of the race winners. But there were also lively sections for some classic breeds, like the bulldog (who didn't progress to the best of the show) and the standard poodle (which happened).
Who's already on the best show?
A dog to watch on Tuesday night is Bono, the Havanese who won the toy group, and the closest thing the show has to a celebrity dog. Bono was one of last year's best finalists and returned to the final seven.
It is not uncommon for a dog to make a repeated appearance in the final group; an excellent example of its race, after all, does not change much after it matures.
3-year-old Havanese, silk and named after the U2 singer, Bono was the highest-rated dog show in the country last year, but finished second with King, the wire fox terrier in Westminster, and Thor , a bulldog, at the National. Dog show on Thanksgiving Day.
This time, said his coach on Monday, he came to win.
"He has something that makes people look at him," said coach, Taffe McFadden, after Bono stepped forward. "He just stares at them."
How does the show work?
Dog shows are basically elimination competitions. The best dogs of each breed compete against each other first to select a best winner of the breed. The best breed winners advance to seven group competitions: dog, toy, sport, non-sport, herding, work and terrier.
The group's seven best winners advance to a final competition of judges for the best in the show. Bono, the Havanese who won the toy group, and Siba, the standard poodle who captured the non-sports group, stepped up on Monday and joined the best show group of the Bourbon hound winner, who is trying to become the first whippet to win since 1964, and Conrad, the Shetland sheepdog who was jumping up and down after beating the group of shepherds.
The winners of the sporting, working and terrier group will be chosen on Tuesday night.