By Leslie Adatto
Three dog-filled days in February bring some of the most spectacular canines in the world to within sniffing distance of our West Village neighborhood. Westminster Week starts on Saturday, February 10th, takes a break on Sunday, continues on Monday, February 12th, and concludes with the world-famous Best in Show competition on Tuesday, February 13th.
You can certainly watch some of the dramatic events on television, but to get fully immersed in the excitement and beauty, consider personally attending some of the sessions. Here’s what to expect:
On Saturday, February 10th, there are two distinct overlapping events at the gigantic Piers 92/94 at West 54th Street. Meet the Breeds (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) is a spectacular chance to interact with and learn about more than 100 dog breeds. Go early as it gets crowded! First thing in the morning, most of the dogs are on hand and are still fresh and playful. The Westminster Kennel Club’s Masters Agility Championship preliminaries, where dogs race the clock to complete a complicated obstacle course, take place from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; the finals take place that evening from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Separate tickets are required for the daytime combined events and the evening championship event.
On Monday, February 12th, the fun continues at Piers 92/94 with three simultaneous events: In the Junior Showmanship preliminaries, 95 of the best, young dog handlers skillfully show champion dogs. Then, get wowed by the relationship between dog and master at The Third Annual Masters Obedience Championship. All the while, the competition between four of the seven dog groups takes place: hounds, non-sporting, toy, and herding dogs. There will be approximately 2,000 champion dogs waiting to greet you between their breed competitions. And don’t forget to check the schedule to see your favorites compete in the ring. See if you can select the dog that will win a coveted Westminster Kennel Clubs’ Best of Breed ribbon.
On Tuesday, February 13th, events are split between the Piers and Madison Square Garden—the historic home of the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show competition. Earlier in the day, the benched show continues at the Piers. You can personally meet another approximately 1,000 dogs that didn’t compete on Monday (the terriers, sporting, and working dog groups) and see their amazing composure as the judges select the breed winners. In the evening at the Garden, after the heartwarming 7:30 p.m. Junior Showmanship finals, the seven dog group winners are selected, reducing the competition from 2,882 dogs to just seven—the best one from each group. Once those seven are selected, they return to the ring and the evening culminates when a single judge, in a very formal ceremony, selects the Top Dog for the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club. Last year, it was a German Shepherd. This year, which will it be?
Watch (you might need cable) on FOX, FOX Sports 1 (FS1), and Nat Geo WILD, or even better, go in person. Buy tickets the day of the event at Piers 92/94 and Madison Square Garden, or in advance at ticketmaster.com.
Leslie Adatto recently adopted Fanny, a beautiful and very strong Rhodesian Ridgeback. Fanny walks Leslie all over the West Village and, as often as she can, to the Leroy Street Dog Park. Leslie is the author of Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftops, which can be found on amazon.com and in bookstores and museum gift shops throughout New York City.