Each year, on the Friday prior to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, there is a very special show held at the Hotel Pennsylvania: The Progressive Dog Show. This year's show will be held on Friday, February 8th, 2013 from 8am to 7pm.
This toy breed only show offers spectators the very rare opportunity to be just feet away from some of the top dogs in the dog show world.
For example, I once had the opportunity to hand David Fitzpatrick the brush he used to arrange his dog, Malachy's, coat to perfection prior to showing. (Ch. Palacegarden Malachy, of course, went on to become Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012.) To a dog show aficionado, the privilege of touching Malachy's brush is akin to a Beatles fan being permitted to touch Paul McCartney's guitar. Amazing things can happen at The Progressive.
Much dedication and work goes into the practical aspects of putting on a dog show and The Progressive Dog Show is no exception.
Spending Thursday afternoon as a volunteer helper for the Progressive Dog Club provided a mere glimpse of the preparations made by devoted club members.
Long before the show date, arrangements were made for huge rolls of skid-proof mats to be delivered to the Hotel Pennsylvania at just the right moment, then rolled out onto the show floor. This special flooring gives the little dogs and their handlers solid footing as they walk before the judges tomorrow. White gates arrived by the dozen and stretched across the empty commercial space to form show rings.
Once the flooring was down and the rings set up, row after row of folding chairs had to be arranged around each ring. Today (Thursday) they are just chairs; tomorrow they will become very precious seats with spectators vying for the perfect one at each ring.
Flower arrangements, velvet table covers for the judges tables, and quilted banners in the club's colors adorned with its logo were all on hand, each were brought to the hotel by club members and carefully arranged to create an elegant atmosphere in which to honor the dogs, breeders, owners and handlers. One beautiful table was laden with all of the prizes and trophies which will go home with the winners of the show.
Add to this the jobs of carefully arranging all of the various printed pieces (programs, schedules, show catalogs, arm bands for exhibitors, etc.), collection boxes for admission and program fees and all the odds and ends that are needed to make everything run smoothly and there must seem to be no end to what must be done before the show can go on.
As a novice observer, I am sure that I missed many details of the setup, as the practiced hands of club members made the tasks go so smoothly.
One must keep in mind that these are only the obvious setup arrangements for the show. It is likely that there are other "behind the scenes" arrangements such as insurance coverage, hotel room reservations, permits and other such matters which must all be in order.
Finally, there are the dogs themselves, who have been preparing for the show all year, physically and emotionally. I only met one dog on Thursday, a lovely Yorkie puppy with locks of black and golden hair, very content in his "mom's" arms as he observed all the work which, after all, is really all about him and all the dogs competing tomorrow for Best in Show.
Note: Why are there no photos accompanying this article? Because I do not think it polite to present the Progressive Dog Show in an undressed state when so much trouble has been made to ensure that the show's presentation will be as elegant as the breeds that participate in it!