There is no other show that galvanizes the members of our sport like Westminster. The ritual begins with sending in entries, then hoping fortune looks favorably upon you and the entries get in. Travel plans must be mapped out, the wardrobe selected and the house sitter notified. Whether you jet your way to the Garden in style or pinch pennies all year to make the pilgrimage, the journey is filled with anticipation.
Every Westminster has its share of twists and turns … and drama. This year it was the second venue at Piers 92/94 that had people talking. Would there be shuttles … and enough of them? Where to stay? The usual hotels accessible to Madison Square Garden or closer to the daytime venue? Yes, logistics became a priority, but the club had things well in hand and addressed exhibitors’ concerns.
Did the piers adequately capture the feel and tradition of Westminster? That becomes a subjective matter. For those accustomed to viewing their breed ring from up above in a boxed seat, it was a decided change. Many others appreciated the lack of congestion the new daytime venue offered.
The return to class competition was another twist. Although class entries were relatively few in number — the cost? The novelty? those exhibitors whose dogs did go Winners made the most of their bragging rights. A number of Best of Breed winners emerged from the classes, and one — the Old English Sheepdog — triumphed in his Group and went on to claim Reserve Best in Show.
Much of the drama this year was provided by the weather, although it was getting into the city in the midst of cancelled flights across the nation that proved the challenge. New York City itself was up and running by the weekend preceding the show while some outgoing states had banned road travel for much of Saturday to allow for snow removal.
We had a few notable absentees at our own Purina ProPlan Show Dogs of the Year Awards¨ on Saturday night, including Rick Beauchamp and several people from our office, all casualties of cancelled flights. Happily, the evening was a success, including the induction of Walter Goodman into the Anne Rogers Clark Hall of Fame. For Walter, probably no Westminster memory shines brighter than the night in 1969 when judge Louis Murr pointed to his glorious Skye Terrier Ch. Glamoor Good News for Best in Show.
This year’s Westminster ended with a stunning lineup of seven dogs and the eventual triumph of a consummate show dog, a superb example of his breed, owned by well-respected members of our sport and handled by a professional admired by all. Congratulations to Banana Joe, the Truesdales, Mieke Cooymans and Ernesto Lara.
Westminster is built on generations of tradition as is our very sport. It is fitting, then, that Jonathan Kimes’ feature story on “Legacies: How to Ensure Your Bloodline Goes Forward” appears in this same issue. Mentors and protégés who choose compatible partners can make lasting contributions for generations to come so it is vital that careful thought be spent on the process.
Finally, we pay tribute to four judges who left us in recent months: Jane Kay, Dr. Gerda Kennedy, Peter Belmont and Le Hedstrom. Jane bred and professionally handled many superb Doberman Pinschers; Gerda, Peter and Le were important Afghan Hound breeders. All four contributed so much to our sport and mentored scores of appreciative protégés.
From the March 2013 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the March 2013 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.