Monday, February 14, 2011

Westminster Dog Show

Nobody knows exactly what will happen at the Westminster Dog Show this year, but, according to Vegas oddsmakers at the Wynn Las Vegas, certain breeds have a better shot than others. The fox terrier (smooth) is a favorite, with odds of 6-to-1, while the saluki and bassett hound are the longest shots at 135-to-1. (These odds are for entertainment purposes only, advises the casino, so don't go crazy.) But what we do know is that all of the best dogs in the country will be under one roof.

The What, Where and When
The 2011 show, taking place Apr. 14 and 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City is the 135th Westminster Dog Show. Nearly 2,600 dogs (plus an additional 128 Junior Showmanship entries) representing 179 breeds will take part. Breeds from Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups will compete for Best of Breed on Monday, with Best of Group being judged that night. Working, Sporting and Terrier groups will compete for Best of Breed on Tuesday, with Best of Group judging taking place Tuesday evening, after which the ultimate prize, Best in Show, will be awarded.

Breed judging highlight videos will be available throughout the day Monday and Tuesday on the Westminster website. You'll be able to watch those videos after the show as well. Television coverage begins Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. ET, on the USA Network and continues from 9 to 11 p.m. ET on CNBC. On Apr. 15, the entire show broadcasts on USA, beginning at 8 p.m. ET and culminating with the announcement of Best in Show around 10:30 p.m. Please check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

What Not to Miss
Six breeds will be entering the Westminster Dog Show ring for the first time this year, so keep your eye out for the Boykin spaniel, Leonberger, Cane Corso, Icelandic sheepdog, bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound as they make their debut. Additionally, there are a number of dogs with interesting stories entered this year, such as Inge, a standard poodle who flew to Westminster in a private jet; Harley, a Belgian Malinois whose handler is a trainer at SeaWorld; Wes, a black Labrador retriever who spends his off time helping children learn to read; and Moose, a Chesapeake Bay retriever who moonlights as a lifeguard.

If you are attending Westminster, don't miss the benching area! Westminster is one of the few benched shows in the country, which means that dogs that aren't being shown, groomed or taking a potty break can be found in the benching area. And that means that spectators (like you!) can get right up close to the competitors.

Fun Facts From Westminster
Westminster is the second-oldest continuous sporting event in the United States, having been established in 1877. (The Kentucky Derby is the oldest.) This makes it older than the lightbulb, the automobile, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Monument, the invention of basketball and the establishment of the World Series.

The Rhodesian ridgeback is the most-entered dog in the 2011 show, with 56 entries. Three breeds have just one entry each -- the American water spaniel, Neapolitan mastiff and English toy spaniel (Blenheim/Prince Charles variety).

Westminster's first show donated a portion of proceeds to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to establish a home for stray and disabled animals.

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