This winter marked my third trip to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, and while I’ve learned a great deal more about dog shows over that time (mostly due to the instruction of my friend Susi Szeremy over at DogKnobit), I think it’s fair to say that I’m still mostly clueless about that world.
Which is fine, since I’ll never show a dog; I just need enough knowledge to be able to watch. I know a bit about the point system and the actual play by play of showing a dog, like how you’re supposed to run around and not let the dog bite anyone, but other mysteries still eluded me.
1. Why do female handlers preferentially flock to what I can only describe as mother of the bride suits? And if the idea is to minimize the floofiness of a puffy skirt by sticking with a straight skirt, are power sheaths an acceptable substitute? (Please say yes. Claire Underwood’s wardrobe on House of Cards is straight up amazing.)
2. Are flats REALLY necessary? (Yes, they are.)
3. At which point do you stop brushing your dog and figure this is as good as it gets? (Never, in some breeds.)
4. Is the world as cutthroat and intense as the depiction in Best in Show? (There were a few busy bees around, yes.)
So with all the infinite wisdom that comes after drinking a little too much cabernet in the hotel bar, Susi and I decided, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be great if we made a video of us at the show with all these world class handlers? And Susi (who is an experienced handler of Pulik) goes in there and messes up all the other breeds? And I go in there and don’t know anything at ALL?” I wonder, we thought, how these rockstars of the show dog world would react.
I don’t know enough about the dog show world to know that the scene I did with Jimmy Moses- a world class handler of German Shepherds- was the equivalent of a kamikaze mission, like sending in pizza delivery guy into the cockpit with Captain Sullenberger and saying, “Lemme have the control, just for a second, it’s cool.” The results were pretty equivocal, I’d say.
His choicest critiques didn’t make it on camera, by the way. I enjoyed the benefits of a thorough wardrobe commentary, which I was expecting having deliberately gone way off course, but he was very, um, thorough.
But in all seriousness, all of the handlers in the shot were such incredibly great sports, and I can’t tell you how gracious they were in taking time out of their packed schedules to indulge us in this. It was a ton of fun. And of all the scenes, Susi with the bloodhound takes the cake.