Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Come for the people. Stay for the dogs.

I'd never been to The Garden before, and I was not impressed. It's old and outdated and much smaller than I expected. There were bathroom attendants. There were five dollar bottles of water. There were over a thousand dogs.

It's a little overwhelming when you walk into what could be a dog flea market. Aisles of dogs with supermarket-style signs suspended over each row telling you what kind of dog you would find there. I was texting Sara to find her mom and her, and all I could respond with was, "There are dogs everywhere!" She wrote something about meeting her by the Giant Schnauzer, which I incorrectly assumed was a statue, not a breed.

It was a game to find the dog owners who looked like their dogs. Some of them, the dogs, were enormous. Sizes and shapes and colors I never imagined. I think I have a favorite dog now. It was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I also have a favorite dog handler. She was showing Curly Retriever number 18. She was the only one dressed like a normal person. She must be new.

There were a good amount a dogs in cages, and they were mostly relaxing like dogs mostly do. A few clearly wanted to get out. I heard there were protesters outside dressed like the Klan. Their point was that the breeders were creating master races of dogs. To me, that message was overpowered by the idea that someone would be stupid enough to dress like a Klan member in New York City.

A lot of dogs were just wandering around, on a leash, saying hi to people. They were all very friendly, and seemed to be enjoying themselves and the attention. Except for the one that was constipated. His owner said he hadn't gone all day, and the dog did look a little stressed. You overhear things like that. You also get to see the dogs in a dog beauty parlor setting, mostly getting their hair done. We saw Uno, last years champ, getting a rubdown before going on the air for the preshow broadcast. You occasionally ask yourself if you have strayed into a restricted area, but it's just really open to all. You can even walk the arena floor all afternoon during the breed competitions.

I never saw that movie that people ask me about whenever I mention going to the dog show. But I was certainly expecting some interesting people, and while it was clear that most of them weren't from around here, we fashionable city folk are the real minority in these united states. There was some over the top flashy, and flat out shiny attire, but it was mostly worn for the occasion. This was, after all, a show.

But while all that people watching was enjoyable, and the reason I went that first day, the dogs won me over in the end. I had to go back for the finals on day two.
And I can't wait for next year.


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