Pier 92 a long New York City’s Hudson River isn’t everyone’s first stop during a visit to the Big Apple.
However, Saturday of the Westminster Dog Show weekend, that’s where I headed, after checking into the dog-friendly Pennsylvania Hotel (affiliate link) across from Madison Square Gardens – the nerve centre for all things dog show.
But before the Best in Show winner of this 141-year-old event eats its victory dinner at Sardi’s restaurant in midtown NYC, there’s a few lead up festivities that can’t be missed.
AKC Meet and Compete
That’s why I’m starting at Pier 92/94 in Hell’s Kitchen – the Westminster Kennel Club needed a place bigger than Madison Square Gardens to host the first of the daytime weekend events: AKC Meet and Compete – the public trade show of dog breeds.
Hundreds of breeders have set up themed booths promoting their specific pedigreed passion. It’s a good opportunity to learn about breed traits, even if you’re planning to rescue an adorable mix like my terrier-cross Victor. According to the Kennel Club, all those represented fall into the ‘responsible breeder’ category. The club actively discourages pet store/puppy mill purchases. The AKC Meet and Compete is an educational opportunity.
Of course, everyone’s really here to see the dogs. And there are many, many dogs.
Sharing the Cat Love
Anyone who doubts for a minute the growing interest in pets – as an industry, an obsession, a lifestyle – should show up at here and wade, shoulder-to-shoulder, through the crowds in two convention-sized buildings. Thousands come here for the afternoon to meet and ogle more than 200 breeds of dogs – and some cats.
For the first time in Westminster history, purebred cats took part in the event – but not in the way you think.
No, they didn’t run in circles led by dapper men in mortician suits or women in flats, narrow skirts and matching matron jackets. That’s not how cats roll.
The cats and The International Cat Association (TICA) were part of Saturday afternoon’s Meet and Compete, and that’s all.
“It was a little misrepresented on social media,” TICA’s Media Coordinator Duffney-Carey tells me. It’s true. When I told people I was going to the Westminster Dog Show, several said, “They’re having cats there now!” Thanks Facebook headlines.
Yes, there are cats – about 32 breeds are represented at the Meet and Compete. According to Duffney-Carey, only about three percent of household felines are purebreds, which leaves most of the population, like me, with adorable crosses.
“I have a black cat,” I tell her. “Do you have that kind here?”
“Absolutely,” she says without missing a beat. “We have a household pet category at all our shows and a booth here today.”
Canine Agility Competitions
So I met several interesting looking felines, but the ‘compete’ part wasn’t on their agenda. The cats did have their own agility course, but not nearly to the dynamic results of their canine counterparts.
The dog ‘compete’ part of the day is afternoon agility trials leading up to tonight’s sold-out finals. A growing sport in the US, dog agility was added to the line-up at Westminster last year (See dogtrotting coverage) to resounding enthusiasm. You don’t have to be a pure breed to compete, either.
By the end of the day, I’d met many pedigreed dogs – some I’ve never heard of. But that’s the point, really.
Up next: Eight dog breeds recognized by the Westminster Kennel Club I didn’t know existed – along with a lot of cute dog pics. Stay tuned…
If you’re collecting Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Collector’s Edition Show Guides, Amazon has several listed.
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