Editor's Page: Reflecting on Westminster

Although Old Man Winter made it a challenge this year for many to arrive and depart, the magical week in Manhattan that is Westminster was as exciting as ever.

By Allan Reznik | Posted: Apr 18, 2014 9 a.m. PST

Allan Reznik Dogs in Review
 

Although Old Man Winter made it a challenge this year for many to arrive and depart, the magical week in Manhattan that is Westminster was as exciting as ever. The glamorous parties, awards dinners, assorted specialties, seminars and club meetings leading up to the two-day show itself draw fanciers from around the world. It is amazing how Westminster Fever grips the entire city. Cab drivers share anecdotes about their favorite dog breeds, and waitresses seeing you with your nose in a catalog talk like bookies, speculating on which top dog will take it all. It is quite infectious.

The Westminster powers that be made a serious effort to address the issues that exhibitors and spectators had with last year’s daytime judging at the Piers. There was a lot more seating around the rings, bleachers set up and TV monitors available to facilitate viewing. I miss being able to see multiple rings at the same time, as you can in Madison Square Garden, but overall, people seem to have accepted the trade off: more space in the benching and grooming areas.

The shuttle buses in the early morning were waiting for us midpoint between the Affinia Hotel and Hotel Pennsylvania, and got us there as quickly as traffic would allow. On the other hand, everyone leaving the Piers mid-afternoon made for long lines and slow departures. However, as one shuttle bus filled up and pulled out, another was generally right behind it to board more passengers. Reserved buses were standing by to transport all Best of Breed dogs to the Garden in a timely manner for the evening Groups.

And speaking of Groups ... yes, there were plenty of upsets at breed level over the two days, but by the time Best in Show was ready to be judged on Tuesday night, Betty Regina Leininger had one of the strongest lineups ever at the Garden, with the seven Group winners having amassed, collectively, more than 500 Best in Shows. Ms. Leininger entered the big ring looking ravishing. She had five bitches and two dogs to choose from; breeds that are Westminster mainstays, a few that seldom reach these towering heights and one, the Cardigan, making history, as the first of her breed to win a Group here. The sparking Wire Fox Terrier and the elegant white Standard Poodle were the showgirls supreme that owned the Garden that night. Kudos to their dedicated handlers, and talented breeders and owners.

The reality of early-morning alarms and checkout, loading vans and flagging down taxi cabs to escape the predicted Wednesday snowstorm would come soon enough. But not before the last of the late-night celebrations; nightcaps for some, coffee and cheesecake for others; and always the rehashing of this year’s results. In a sport losing many of its fine traditions, Westminster is one that we cherish.

 

From the April 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine, or call 1-888-738-2665 to purchase a single copy.

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