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Westminster is Olympics for canines

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Westminster is on. Every year dog fanciers look forward to this event and this year its bigger than ever. Agility has been added to the competition offered and that means all breeds are welcome. There will be a special meet and greet with the Carriage Horses of New York at a Carriage Barn Open House. And of course judging of the dogs begins on Monday.

For those of us who are not dog breeders it's hard to understand how the dog show works and what it's for. It's pretty simple. A few hundred years ago people realized that dogs who were good at something in particular; tracking, hunting, guarding, pulling or playing with kids usually had puppies who were also good at the same things. If you knew what you wanted in a dog, you could go to someone who owned dogs like you needed and get a puppy. With time, dogs who did this or that started to look alike. Tests and competitions were devised to measure just how good each dog might be and this resulted in increased interest in certain puppies. And the dog show was born.

For those of us who have an attraction to a certain type of dog, for work or looks, the dog show is a place to see the best of the best. And Westminster has become a big deal for 138 years. This year there are almost 3000 dogs entered, including 22 Borzoi in Ring 5 at 11 am on Monday February 10th. If you miss them there will be a continued showing if needed at Ring 1 after lunch (1:15PM). Both sections to be judged by Judge Helen Winski Stein. You can watch ive on the Westminster web site or see highlights Monday night on CNBC at 8 PM EST and on USA Tuesday same time. The Agility competition was last night but will air again but in a FOX fail, checking your local listings doesn't help find out when. I'll keep on it but there are several unanswered inquiries on the ESPN/Fox site requesting the information so far.

Every year, the Kennel Club invites representative dogs from each breed. Others are welcome to register but the competition is stiff. This year's Borzoi invitees are

If you get to New York for this show you'll be pleasantly surprised that all the dogs are available all day. Shows like this are hard to come by. In most Kennel Club events dogs are free to show up just in time for their ring presentation and free to leave immediately after. But at Westminster dogs are required to remain for the two day event at designated benches for the viewing public. Admission to a dog show is usually a nominal parking fee and you'll need a program to find what you are looking for. At Westminster Kennel Club the schedule is on line and you can see the dogs of your choice anytime during the event.

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