GCH CH Afterall Painting the Sky, a California-owned wire fox terrier known as "Sky," steps into his silver trophy in December after winning the AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship (AENC), in Orlando, and its $50,000 Best-in-Show cash prize. He's the No. 1 dog in the country so far this year. Photos by Kayla Bertagnolli at Best...
GCH CH Afterall Painting the Sky, a California-owned wire fox terrier known as “Sky,” steps into his silver trophy in December after winning the AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship (AENC), in Orlando, and its $50,000 Best-in-Show cash prize. He’s the No. 1 dog in the country so far this year. Photos by Kayla Bertagnolli at Best In Show Daily.
Billy Wheeler writes about the dog-show world in his respected blog, www.dogshowpoop.blogspot.com, and in a Back Story column for the website, www.bestinshowdaily.com. He talks with The Seattle Times in a Q&A before heading from his home in Tennessee to Madison Square Garden in New York for the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Show on Monday and Tuesday.
Opening night of the competition will air on CNBC and closing night will air on USA Network. Here’s how the two nights break down:
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On Monday, the Hounds, Toys, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups will be televised on CNBC at 8 p.m. ET.
On Tuesday, the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, followed by Best In Show will be shown on USA Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.
Please note that the West Coast telecast is delayed. For live results of each day’s competition and streaming videos of the judging for the 187 breeds and varieties, see the Westminster Kennel Club website .
Wheeler will host an online chat during the broadcasts with lots of information on the competitors.
Q: The nationwide dog-show circuit runs from the first weekend in January through mid-December, culminating with the AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship (AENC), in Orlando, and its $50,000 Best-in-Show cash prize. Yet you’ve deemed Westminster — without its monetary jackpot or warm climes — “the greatest dog show on the planet.” What’s your reasoning?
A: Let’s start with the fact that this is the 137th consecutive show hosted by the Westminster Kennel Club. Only the Kentucky Derby is older and it is in, well, Kentucky. New York is still the media center of the universe. Nowhere else does our sport receive the exposure it does at this show.
Q: GCH CH Afterall Painting the Sky, a California-owned wire fox terrier known as “Sky,” took home that big Eukanuba prize in December and immediately followed up with wins in Palm Springs in early January. She was among your top 10 in all-breed rankings in 2012, and you now rate her as the No. 1 dog in the country. Does winning at Eukanuba give her an edge in the Garden?
A: Sky finished 2012 as the No. 4 dog all breeds, taking home the AENC, the largest show in the U.S. last year. While Sky did get a head start on the field with the two big wins in Palm Springs, she will have competition at the Garden, as several other dogs have now posted multiple best-in-show wins early in the year.
In addition to the five Best in Shows Sky has logged through this past weekend, she has a remarkable string of 17 consecutive Terrier Group Ones.
No dog has dominated its group like Sky has over the last year. However, because the typical Terrier entry at a show has fewer dogs and is only worth 35 percent to 40 percent of the larger Sporting entry, a Terrier cannot count on the Group wins to stay competitive. It must have Best in Show wins.
Doberman pinscher GCH CH Protocol’s Veni Vidi Vici, right, wins the Working Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last year at Madison Square Garden in New York. She is shown by breeder/owner/handler Jocelyn Mullins. Photo by Michael Nagle / Getty Images
Q: Westminster has altered its game plan this year. Because of renovations at the Garden, the bustling and typically packed daytime best-of-breed contests will be held at Piers 92/94, a more spacious venue across town. Breed winners — dogs and their entourages — will be transported to the Garden for the televised group competition in the evening.
It may not sound like much of a feat for us watching comfortably from afar. But, in reality, it could be a logistical nightmare, schlepping thousands of dogs, gear, spectators and exhibitors back and forth in the madness of Manhattan — in the dead of winter, no less. How might this change impact the contest?