Expecting dogs and cats to act like bosom buddies may be a little unrealistic. But for one high-profile weekend in Manhattan this October, the two species shared the stage in a celebration of purebreds both canine and feline.
The second annual “Meet the Breeds,” held Oct. 16 and 17 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, was presented by the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association and showcased 160 dog breeds and 41 cat breeds.
While each species had its own section, there was a little crossover, especially between breeds with related histories or features: This year, we caught a hairless Mexican Xoloitzcuintli hanging out outside the booth of the equally fur-challenged Sphinx cat.
Meet the Breeds was inspired by a similar event that AKC runs in tandem with its high-profile invitational show in Long Beach, Calif., each December – though the show moves to Florida after this year. But unlike its West Coast counterpart, the Manhattan event was an entity all its own, drawing tens of thousands of attendees.
Members of AKC parent clubs were responsible for setting up informational booths, which reflected the breed’s origins or abilities. Pat and Joe Borracci and their grade-school daughters Veronica and Morgan Rose of Dix Hills, N.Y., turned the Mastiff Club of America booth into a medieval castle, inhabited by, not coincidentally, two begowned princesses.
And over at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi booth, which re-created a mini-sized Windsor castle (complete with ivy climbing up stone walls and a scepter-holding Queen Elizabeth impersonator), the to-the-manor-born vibe earned the Best Booth award at weekend’s end.
But no matter what the backdrop or the props or the pop-culture references (the Cairn Terrier booth, in a nod to Toto, included a “Wizard of Oz” cast), in the end the focus came back to the individual dogs. Cell-phone cameras got workouts as Greyhounds greeted and Pugs posed. Fanciers of lesser-known breeds fielded questions as basic as “What the heck is that?”
“Someone asked me today if it comes in a miniature version,” said Denise Loeper of Frederick, Md., who was helping with the Otterhound booth, a breed so rare it is fourth-to-last in AKC registrations, 161st out of 164 breeds recognized.
“Yes,” she jokingly replied. “It’s called a PBGV” – short for Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, a hound that has a similar shaggy coat, but way shorter dwarf legs.
Different breed, different aisle.
Denise Flaim is a DOG FANCY contributing editor.