We Are All Sussex Spaniels Now

Backstage at Madison Square Garden

Backstage at Madison Square Garden

Notes from the 133rd Westminster show:

Because we are cheap, we watched Tuesday’s final session of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show from the upper decks of Madison Square Garden. This turned out to be the best seats in the house. Behind us, four women kept up a running commentary that was a straight-up mashup of Best in Show and The Sopranos:

Woman One: See that dog? That’s a Pyrenees. Sophia has one of those.

Woman Two: Sophia?

Woman Three: I don’t trust those dogs.

Woman One: Sophia, Sophia down the street. You know Sophia. She has two Pyreenees

Woman Four: They’re tremendous animals. Tremendous.

In front of us, a man sitting by himsef starts answering the women’s questions. He knows everything. During the Working category, he confidently states that one of the darker-furred animals will win because the judge is known to have a strong preference for those kinds. Moments later, a jet-black giant schnauzer is in the winner’s circle. “Do you have a dog?” one of the women asks. “No,” the guy says. “That’s why I come here every year. All day. Both days.” I decide to place my bets on the schnauzer.

We hit Best in Show, and the place is just rocking. The poodle comes in and the place goes nuts. Huge guys in trucker hats screaming “Let’s Go, Deerhound!” and “Pulik! Pulik!” The dog lover guy scoffs (“That deerhound has NO chance”) and takes his leave, saying “I’ve got to get down to the floor. If I time it right, I can catch the dogs right as they come backstage after the judging.” Then, the Scottish terrier hits the ring. He makes a lap. He’s fiesty. The crowd loves him. He stops, and squats…

Woman Two: Oh my God, did that dog just pee on the rug?

Woman One: Oh, he’s through. He is through.

Second to last is the Sussex spaniel, Stump. Stump is 10 years old, and looks it. He is also clearly a rockstar. He doesn’t run around the ring so much as command it. My schnauzer hopes are dashed.

And, finally, your winner:

Stump in the winner's circle

According to the nice NY Times account, Stump’s got a great comeback story; see it here.

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