Get ready to grab your dog, a bowl of treats and the remote control.

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Billy & Dee Dee.jpgGet ready to grab your dog, a bowl of treats and the remote control.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, arguably the most prestigious in the United States, will be back Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York with more than 2,000 dogs competing for the coveted best-in-show trophy.

Over two nights of televised coverage, we’ll see some of the nation’s — and the Northwest’s — top dogs.

The Seattle Times asked respected dog-show blogger and columnist Billy Wheeler, of Memphis, Tenn., to fill us in. In two posts on Saturday and Sunday, Wheeler, who crafts the increasingly popular blog Dog Show Poop and is a columnist for the new online publication Best in Show Daily, tells us what to watch for, who to watch for and why.

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Wheeler, pictured above with his Cairn terrier, Shadowland’s Devil in Disguise, talks about his lifelong passion for purebred dogs and how he found his niche in retirement:

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I attended my first dog show in 1968 here in Memphis, Tenn. The host club was the Memphis Kennel Club, the club that held the first dog show in the nation on Oct. 8, 1874.

That show was won by the Afghan hound, CH Dahnwood Gabriel, the top Hound of 1968, handled by Michele Leathers Billings. The two of them were like rock stars, glamorous and larger than life.

I was a short, plain-looking kid with glasses from Memphis and knew I was never going to be another Elvis or James Dean, but here was a world where mere dog owners were superstars.

Now 40 years later, Elvis and James Dean are dead, but I’m still going to dog shows. I never did achieve that rock-star fame (Success is just as elusive in dogdom as it is in music or films), but I’ve shown at Westminster (the Garden), Philadelphia, Santa Barbara, Calif., San Francisco (the Cow Palace) and Portland, Ore.

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