Wonk is computer-ese for an expert in a given field and appears to have derived from spelling the word know backwards. You can stop grinning, because this word refers to those who want to be taken seriously (although you are allowed to wink). I suppose it applies to most of you who visit goodnewsforpets on a regular basis. Now that we have defined our terms, let me inform all of you dog wonks that there is excitement in the air this January and February, especially if you’re into the glory of purebred dogs and the best dog shows on television.
Most current is the soon-to-be-aired 5th Annual AKC/EUKANUBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP show, live from Tampa, Fla. on Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15. If you are not in the neighborhood of the beautiful Tampa Convention Center, you can still catch the show on both Animal Planet and by simulcast on Discovery Channel from 8-11 P.M. (ET) both nights. Ron Reagan returns as host, along with dog show veteran Lee Arnold and renowned dog show judge Edd E. Bivin. Get your kibble and popcorn ready because the Group and Best in Show competitions will be seen LIVE on both nights starting at 8 P.M. The competition will be exceptional and the prize is enormous.
You’ll have to be at the Convention Center in Tampa if you want to see the daytime events and there are many of those. On Saturday and Sunday you can enjoy the National Agility Championship and the National Obedience Invitational. From 8 A.M. to 3 P.M., each day, thousands of beautifully bred and meticulously groomed dogs from around the world, representing almost all the AKC-recognized breeds, will compete for Best of Breed. The daytime Best of Breed winners will then battle each night (on TV) from 8PM " 11PM for Best of Group and on Sunday night for Best in Show. To sweeten the pot the National Champion (Best in Show) will be awarded a cash prize of $50,000 live on TV. How sweet it is.
One last tip: check out the American Kennel Club’s web site, www.akc.org for a lot more specific information on this show. Then visit their AKC Store and consider their huge poster, “The AKC’s Guide to Purebred Dogs (adults)” for $7.95. It will help identify the dogs you see on TV. They also have a breed poster depicting the dogs as puppies. There are lots of other great souvenirs you can get, including snazzy caps with individual dog breeds on the crown. You gotta love ‘em.
Continuing with February’s festival of best friends, we can bask in the glow of the glamour and excitement of the Westminster Kennel Club Show, seen on Monday, February 13 and Tuesday, February 14, on cable’s USA Network from 8-11 P.M. This year, the 130th Westminster Dog Show once again takes over Madison Square Garden, the most celebrated arena in the world. The judging for the Groups will be carried LIVE each night throughout the United States and in many parts of the world with co-hosts David Frei, Director of Westminster Communications, and CBS personality and veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner (“The Early Show,” 1990 Miss America) along with long-time entertainment reporter and NBC personality Jill Rappaport (“The Today Show”.)
“Carlee” (Ch. Kan-Point’s VJK Autumn Roses). Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club 129th Annual All Breed Dog Show. In the opinion of many, a perfect dog. And as they say at the Garden, “America’s Dog for 2005.”
The competition starts out with over 2500 purebred dogs, each one already an AKC Champion of Record. During the day, the process of elimination takes place with one dog from each of the 165 AKC-recognized breeds and varieties winning Best of Breed in the seven separate show rings. Those dogs then compete each night for Best of Group. When the two-day process of elimination is finished, seven dogs, each one representing Best of Group, parade around the main ring on the second night, a night of tuxedos and evening gowns. Of those seven one dog, and one dog only, is beckoned to step in front of the cameras and become “America’s Dog” for the year. That dog, recipient of a number of silver cups and bowls and the coveted purple and gold ribbon, becomes the Best in Show winner at Westminster. It is a formidable title. In 2005, that dog was “Carlee” (Ch. Kan-Point’s VJK Autumn Roses). She is a magnificent German Shorthaired Pointer whose conformation is considered faultless and who demonstrated that night her astonishing ability to place herself into a rarely seen perfect stance for the judge’s viewing, a free stack. As she did this, she lifted her head in a classic stare that made handler Michelle Ostermiller grin with pride and capture the undying admiration of Best in Show Judge, Lynette Saltzman. It was one of the most stunning moments in the history of Westminster and the crowd went wild. They seemed to cheer more for her that moment than when she won the show. Carlee got the nod, of course, and another incredible Westminster drama had played out.
Well, it happens all over again this coming February at the Garden and the place will be jammed, literally, to the rafters as it was last year when all seats were sold out, including those in the nosebleed section.
For all the specifics about the show and everything else you need to know about Westminster, including stats, TV and streaming information, go to their colorful web site: www.westminsterkennelclub.org. They also offer some great items for sale among which is their sumptuous Westminster Guide and Record Book 2006. This over-sized honey sells for $15 and is a must-have if you’re going to the show or if you plan to watch it over USA Network.
An interesting footnote to the show this year is the presentation on Monday evening of those inducted for the first time into the newly created DWAA Hall of Fame. Since 1935, the Dog Writers Association of America has been an important part of the Dog Fancy and served those who write about or photograph or illustrate dogs, purebred and otherwise. The distinguished organization was inspired by and created at the Westminster Dog Show in a side room of the old Madison Square Garden.
The first three honorees are William F. Stifle, former American Kennel Club President from 1977 to 1986, longtime Westminster member and author of the celebrated book, The Dog Show- 125 Year of Westminster; the late Walter Fletcher, renowned New York Times dog writer; and the late Maxwell Riddle, author, newspaper columnist and all-breed judge who was a founding father and former president of DWAA. Throughout his professional life Max Riddle was an influential force throughout the world of dogs and the most admired member ever of DWAA. Their prestigious writing award, the Maxwell, a coveted medallion, is named for him.
Mordecai Siegal’s latest book will be in book stores everywhere in early February, titled “I Just Got a Kitten. What Do I Do?” published by Simon & Schuster. His last published book is, “The Cat Fanciers’ Association COMPLETE CAT BOOK. The Official Publication of the CFA,” published by HarperCollins. This feline reference book is comparable to the AKC’s Complete Dog Book. His most recent dog book is “The Good Life: Your Dog’s First Year” (Simon and Schuster). His most durable books are “Good Dog, Bad Dog” (Henry Holt), “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things” (Little, Brown), the 10th Anniversary Revised Edition of “I Just Got A Puppy. What Do I Do?” (Simon & Schuster), “The Cornell Book of Cats” (Villard), “The Davis Book of Dogs” (HarperCollins), and “The Davis Book of Horses” (HarperCollins). He is President Emeritus of the Dog Writers Association of America and a founding member of The Cat Writers’ Association.