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Beauty and the Beasts: Grooming Champions at the Westminster Dog Show

In the cramped grooming area for the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, contenders for Best of Breed, Best of Group, and Best in Show honors are pressed, primped, plaited and powdered.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the Westminster dog Show (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show coincides each February with New York Fashion Week, so every year someone in the media can be counted upon to make the obvious comparison: leggy lookers prance at both events.

In my view, the "dog show equals fashion show" analogy is thin. Models, however beautiful, are basically ciphers whose function is to sell what they are wearing. It's the clothes that have the personality. Show dogs, on the other hand, are in the business of selling themselves, and they are wearing whatever nature intended for them. 

However, that nature gets a lot of help, and where the fashion-canine parallel really holds up is in the prep.

The orchestrated frenzy backstage at the collections is mirrored in the cramped grooming area at Madison Square Garden. Contenders for Best of Breed, Best of Group, and Best in Show honors are pressed, primped, plaited, powdered, combed, sprayed, snipped, teased and tousled in accordance with the standards for each breed.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The highly anticipated Best In Show competition will be televised live Tuesday on USA Network from 8 to 11 P.M. ET.

To see what it takes for dogs to walk the walk at Westminster, have a look at our video and slideshow, both of which were shot by WNYC's Stephen Nessen.

Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Tools of the trade
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Salukis are an ancient breed and used to attention
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Attitude from an American Eskimo Dog
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
The writing says it all.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
High-velocity Collie
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Ch. Jaset's Satisfaction (London) gets glorious
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
London's ready for his close up
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
A fetching top knot
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
That's why they call them, Bichon Frise
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
An opinionated Lundehund
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
The Thinker

Produced by:

Sarah Montague

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Comments [2]

Selo Bond from Raleigh NC

Dear NPR

I love your NPR, your program, and I listen every day.

Your show today included a piece about the upcoming dog show. Its no longer a secret that these beauty contests are not good for dogs. They represent some unnatural human-conceived "ideal" of what a man-made breed of dog should look like, including unnatural, unhealthy, mutant breeds like the bull dog.

I am disappointed that the guest, Ms. Montague, and the event itself were treated as legitimate. I would have been much more heartened to hear a counterpoint from someone who sees these events for what they are - the canine equivalent of Toddlers and Tiaras.

Best regards,
Selo Bond

Feb. 12 2013 06:26 PM

Love this video!!!!

Feb. 15 2012 11:17 AM

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