Just as the Tour de France is the most famous bicycle race in the world, so the Westminster Dog Show is the most prestigious display of canine perfection. For me, they are spectator sports. Of the two, the Westminster Dog Show holds my heart.

Buddy Holly, 2023 winner was named after Buddy Holly the rock & roll singer who died in a 1959 plane crash. Buddy, a PBGV (Petit Basset Griffon Verdeen) is huggable!


The 148th spectacle, held at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, included a six-year-old Bracco Italiano pointer from Douglas, WY.

Close your eyes and try to imagine 2,500 dogs from 200 breeds competing for the grand prizes a dog can earn.

The dogs arrive from all over the world. To participate in the 2024 show, Vitellozzo, a two-year-old French bull dog, from Croatia was driven to Budapest and flown to Warsaw. From there, he flew in a plane to Chicago where he participated in show, Afterward he began his road trip to NYC. Vitellozzo came to the U.S. with his required passport allowing him back into his own country.


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Like an Olympic meet, dogs can compete in agility, obedience, and dock diving. The entry fee for each event is $100, with the top prize per event paying $5000. Wow! However. the winner doesn’t actually get the money. It must be donated to a dog training club or to the American Kennel Club Humane Fund.


The most popular contest of the event is the beauty pageant which includes the best of the 200 breeds. They are divided into seven categories with one winner in each group who goes on to compete for the title of the Westminster Dog Show’s Best in Show.

Back stage, the groomers are primping their dogs. Handlers pace and check their pockets for the approved bits of freeze dried duck or liver treats until their dog’s group is called.

How does one person narrow a field of 35 dogs in the herding group down to the single best dog representing their category? How do they remember that dog #16 had a slight wave in the hair at the back of it’s head and #29 didn’t really want to show it’s teeth?  The judges, in their dress up clothes, have years of experience working with a particular breed, but still, how do they do it?


With seven dogs in the final Best of Show competition, the sequestered judge, an expert dog evaluator, makes the call after inspecting each dog. Prying their mouths open to check their teeth and temperament before watching the dogs walk or run are all routine. Then, a decision is made, and one special dog is named Best of Show.

This year, a surprise winner, three-year-old Surrey Sage, a black miniature poodle, took the highest honor. Beautiful and stately, Sage reminded me of a child’s pull toy with pompoms covering the area above her toes. Her handler, Mr. Hosaka, styled her with a giant topknot on her head, a puff around her body, and a snowball on her tail.

The most impressive item Sage received is the bragging rights as Best of Show at the Westminster Dog Show. Since there’s no higher honor, she will go into retirement where she can splash in mud puddles and roll in the grass whenever she chooses.


One year, after dinner with my friends, Mike and Glenda, we settled down to watch the show. We each picked our favorite to be the fairest in the land. After more than an hour, we learned the show had been filmed a few years earlier. But, what did it matter? Beautiful dogs are gorgeous no matter what year it is.

Go to a dog show if you have the opportunity. They’re fun! For information about the Westminster Dog Show, go to their website: ghttp://www.westminsterkennelclub.org

Thanks for being a friend!


P.O. If you haven’t bought your copy of Finding the Good: A Journey of Love, Loss, and Living, please go to my website where you can purchase one. carolchapmanwrites.com

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