Relax before the big meal -- and the football games -- by watching the National Dog Show. A guide to enjoying it from the man who knows it best
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
It’s that time of year: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, turkey and all the fixings -- and the dog show.
Wait, not football? That’s right. Hang on to the remote from noon to 2 p.m. so you can watch the National Dog Show, says co-host David Frei. Frei, with John O’Hurley, has introduced viewers to top dogs since the show was first broadcast in 2002 to an audience of more than 20 million -- a number that has only grown since then.
The National Dog Show was inspired by the 2000 film “Best in Show,” which spoofed purebred dog shows. That film’s fictional “Mayflower” competition was modeled on the famed Westminster Kennel Club show.
Jon Miller, president of acquisitions and partnerships for NBC Sports, rented the movie in 2001 to watch with his neighbors. The next day, he pitched the idea of a major dog show airing on Thanksgiving Day following the Macy’s parade. The movie took place in Philadelphia, so televising the Philadelphia Kennel Club’s annual dog show -- which dates to 1879, making it one of the longest-running sporting events around, and takes place just before Thanksgiving -- was a no-brainer.
And a dog show is something the whole family can enjoy watching. While most of us can’t relate to somebody draining a 60-foot putt or scoring 48 points in a basketball game, plenty of us have dogs sitting next to us on the sofa, and it’s easy to picture them in the show ring, having a good time and impressing the audience, Frei says.
Whether you’re a dog show newbie or an experienced spectator, Frei has some advice for how to watch the show, which this year has entries from 199 of the 212 American Kennel Club-recognized dog breeds and varieties, totaling nearly 2,000 dogs.
First, don’t expect to see each and every breed. It just can’t be done in the two-hour time slot.
“We keep track of which breeds have been on and try to spread it around a little bit each year, but out of the 212 breeds and varieties, we may show 50 of them,” he says. Even his own breed -- he lives with a cavalier King Charles spaniel named True Dat -- hasn’t made an appearance since 2018.
Expect to see popular dogs such as golden retrievers; unusual-looking dogs such as heavily wrinkled Neapolitan mastiffs or corded komondors; and maybe dogs who do something cute in their group competition, who have a great human-interest story such as saving their family from a fire or who belong to a breed with an interesting background. One of the unusual breeds entered this year is the sloughi, a sighthound that originated in Northern Africa.
Bear in mind that a breed’s appearance may once have had a functional reason. The easy example, Frei says, is the standard poodle, which was once a water retriever in Germany. The fancy clips seen in the show ring are glorified versions of the puffs of hair left around the hunting dogs’ joints to help them stay warm when they were in the water retrieving ducks. (Modern hunters who’ve taken poodles back to their roots simply keep those curly coats trimmed to about an inch all over the body.)
The Philadelphia Kennel Club event is the last remaining “benched” show, meaning that when the dogs aren’t strutting their stuff in the ring, they are in specific areas throughout the day so their adoring fans can see them up close and personal. Even if you can’t attend the actual show last week, you may catch glimpses of benched dogs during the two-hour broadcast.
Last but not least, whether they are Chihuahuas or Irish wolfhounds, every dog entered is just as much a top athlete, both physically and mentally, as any football player, so settle back and enjoy the game. May the best dog win!
Cold laser for
Q: My veterinarian suggested laser therapy for my pet after surgery to help with healing. How does that work?
A: Sometimes known as cold laser or class IV laser, this therapy works by altering or stimulating cellular function. The light energy penetrates to a certain depth -- depending on the wavelength and energy applied -- and affects cells and blood vessels by blocking a nerve's ability to send a pain signal to the brain, increasing blood flow or decreasing swelling. These effects can significantly speed wound healing.
Laser therapy may also help with pain relief. It can reduce redness, swelling and inflammation at incision sites and decrease stiffness in arthritic joints so pets can start moving normally again. Depending on the injury or condition, use of cold laser treatment may help decrease the amount of pain medication needed by some pets.
If used correctly, cold laser treatment doesn’t have any side effects. It’s noninvasive, and it can be used weekly or monthly to improve quality of life for pets with chronic pain. Pets recovering from surgery or trauma can receive cold laser treatments twice a day for a few days to help speed recovery and reduce pain.
Cold laser isn’t right for every condition. It shouldn’t be used for pets with cancer or directed over tattoos, areas that are actively bleeding or toward the retina of the eye.
In humans, laser therapy is considered experimental and insurance may not cover it, but pet health insurance frequently covers cold laser and other complementary therapies. The cost varies depending on the type of laser used, veterinary costs in your particular area and whether a veterinarian or technician is administering the treatment. It’s definitely something to consider to help pets recover well after surgery or simply to reduce the aches of old age. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
10 best states
for dog lovers
-- Vermont has been named the best state for dog lovers in a survey by the Insurance Ranked website, which analyzed each state for key metrics such as number of veterinarians, access to parks, dog-friendly rentals, number of pet sitters and crime rates. Vermont scored high for number of veterinarians (62 per 100,000 residents) and ranked fourth for number of dog sitters per 100,000 residents (16.73). Other states in the top 10, in order, are Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Maine and Arizona. Georgia didn’t make the top 10, but it has the most dog-friendly rental apartments.
-- November is Pet Diabetes Month (usa.petdiabetesmonth.com). The disease affects both dogs and cats, and pets with it may require daily insulin injections, which pet owners can easily learn to give. In cats, the disease can sometimes be managed and even sent into remission with a weight loss plan known as, of course, the Catkins Diet. Cats who have not been treated with insulin also have the option of oral medication that may help control the disease. Find more information about injection training for pets here: fearfreehappyhomes.com/fear-free-injection-training-for-your-diabetic-pet.
-- Fall seems like a benign time of year, but it has some hazards. Here’s what to know to keep pets safe. Leaf piles provide a cozy environment for beneficial insects, enrich soil and provide nesting material for animals and amphibians, but damp piles can harbor potentially toxic fungi and molds, so keep pets out of them. Acorns can cause intestinal upset in dogs that eat them, so rake and remove them. On hikes, put a bright orange safety vest on your dog. Indoors, make sure pets can’t access mothballs that may have been tucked in with sweaters and blankets. The pesticides can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or if eaten, absorbed through the stomach and intestines. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker is founder of the Fear Free organization, co-founder of VetScoop.com and author of many best-selling pet care books. Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning journalist and author who has been writing about animals since 1985. Mikkel Becker is a behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/Kim.CampbellThornton and on Bluesky at kimthornton.bsky.social. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.