11 things you might not know about the Westminster Kennel Club dog show
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Like millions of people throughout the country, you may be planning to settle down in front of the television Monday and Tuesday night to view the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the Super Bowl of dog shows, as longtime announcer David Frei (who will be stepping down after this year) likes to call it.
The glittering spectacle has its roots in Gilded Age New York. It's easy to imagine the friendly arguments over whose dog was best as robber barons gathered for cocktails in the bar of the Westminster Hotel after a good day's hunting. From there, it was only a short step to forming a club and putting on a dog show in response to the claim "My dog is better than your dog."
Today, in terms of longevity, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is second only to the Kentucky Derby. Here are 11 tidbits you might not have known about Westminster and the dogs who make it must-see viewing.
1. In 1877, members of what became known as the Westminster Kennel Club staged the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs, held at Gilmore's Garden (which became Madison Square Garden) in New York City.
2. The three-day show drew an entry of 1,201 dogs and garnered such great public interest that a fourth day was added. In a philanthropic bow to the nascent humane movement, the proceeds from the fourth day were donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to open a home for stray and disabled dogs.
3. Only the top five dogs in each breed, plus all national specialty winners, get invitations to Westminster. It's the luck of the draw for everyone else.
4. The winningest dogs at Westminster are the terriers. They've taken the top spot 46 times.
5. Smooth fox terrier Ch. Warren Remedy started the trend in 1907 -- the first year the title Best in Show was awarded -- and became the first and only dog to win Best in Show for three consecutive years. The most recent terrier to win was wire fox terrier GCH (Grand Champion) Afterall Painting The Sky in 2014.
6. Other top-winning terriers include Lakeland terrier Ch. Stingray of Derryabah, the first dog to win Best in Show at Westminster (1968) after winning the same award at Crufts (Great Britain's famous dog show), and Kerry blue terrier Ch. Torums Scarf Michael, who won Crufts in 2000 and Westminster in 2003.
7. Boxer Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest was the first dog from west of the Mississippi to win Best in Show at Westminster, in 1951.
8. English springer spaniel Ch. Chinoe's Adamant James won his second consecutive Best in Show at Westminster in 1972. No dog has done it since.
9. Ch. Royal Tudor's Wild as the Wind, a red Doberman pinscher, was the first Best in Show winner (1989) to also hold an obedience title (Companion Dog).
10. Sussex spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee has the distinction of being not only the oldest dog to win Best in Show, in 2009 when he was 10 years old, but also the first of his breed to do so. The next-oldest dog to take top honors was papillon Ch. Loteki Supernatural Being (Kirby) in 1999, when he was 8 years, 1 month and 10 days old. Kirby was also the first dog ever to win both the World Dog Show (1998) and Westminster.
11. Some breeds have never been top dog at Westminster. They include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, Brittanys, bloodhounds, cavalier King Charles spaniels and Pembroke Welsh corgis.
Dig deep to
ditch dog's itch
Q: My 8-year-old chocolate Lab suffers from allergies. I've had tests done, but they come back with only high yeast content. I thought giving him yogurt with his food might help, but he's not fond of it. I've purchased special shampoos from the vet and I give him Benadryl, but his sides usually end up with no fur; right now he's working on his chest. He eats a salmon and sweet potato food. -- via email
A: Allergies are a common problem in Labs. It's not unusual for them to suffer from allergies to fleas, certain food ingredients, cleaning agents used in the home, pollens and more.
Determining the cause of an allergy can be time-consuming and frustrating. And solving it is rarely as simple as adding yogurt to a pet's food.
Your best bet is probably to consult a veterinary dermatologist who can take you through the steps to figure out whether your dog has a contact allergy from, say, a carpet deodorizer, laundry detergent or fabric softener; air fresheners or disinfectants used in the home; or fabric or leather cleaning products. He may have an allergy to one or more ingredients in the food or treats you give or to pollens, molds, dust mites and yeasts in the environment.
An accurate diagnosis requires a thorough history, including the types of products you use in your home and everything you give your dog to eat; a physical exam, looking at such things as the pattern of hair loss and whether hairs are shed or broken off; and skin scrapings or skin biopsies to check for bacterial, fungal or yeast infections. Blood work and urinalysis may be necessary if a hormonal problem is suspected. An elimination diet, containing ingredients your dog has never eaten before, can help to determine if he has a food allergy.
Until the problem is diagnosed, medication can help to relieve the itch, whatever its cause. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Experts seek info
about your dog
-- A project called Darwin's Dogs is collecting anecdotal and genetic information from up to 5,000 dogs in the hope of learning more about genetic links to conditions such as cognitive dysfunction -- similar to dementia or Alzheimer's disease in humans -- and canine compulsive disorder, which causes dogs to lick, chew, spin, chase or perform other behaviors in an exaggerated manner. The dogs enrolled in the study -- 3,000 so far -- include purebreds and mixed breeds. Owners provide DNA samples and answer questions about their dogs' behaviors, environment, physical traits and more. Researchers will begin analyzing DNA samples next month.
-- Looking to adopt a cat? Shelter volunteers can help you make the best choice by asking about your lifestyle and home. Are you and family members active or quiet? Do you have young children or other dogs or cats? The answers can help determine which cat will be the best fit for your family, says Elaine Mata, who volunteers at the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter in San Clemente, California. "We try to match to the type of household in terms of the people there and the activity level," she says.
-- Cold weather can be tough on senior dogs, especially if they suffer from arthritis. A heated bed can help to soothe achy joints. Your golden oldie will appreciate it if you place the bed in his favorite spot, where he can see what's going on in the house or watch for squirrels outdoors. Choose a bed that regulates heat to no more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (close to canine body temperature) and comes on only when the dog is on it. If your dog still likes to spend time outdoors, purchase a weatherproof heated dog bed to place on your deck or other sheltered area. -- Kim Campbell Thornton
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS
Caption 01: In 2011, Grand Champion Foxcliffe Hickory Wind (Hickory) became the first and so far only Scottish deerhound to win Best in Show at Westminster. Position: Main Story
Caption 02: Shelter volunteers can help you look past a cat's appearance to find the treasured personality beneath. Position: Pet Buzz/Item 2