Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Warning, for dog lovers-only: Deerhound wins group!

I'm in big trouble. I was supposed to record yesterday's first night of The Westminster Kennel Club dog show for my wife, but forgot. What's worse is that Hickory took the group. That may not mean much to you, but for a former Deerhound owner it's a big thing.

Courtesy of The Westminster Kennel Club

For those of you not familiar with the annual event, The Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show is one of those otherworldly events that happen in NYC inside Madison Square Gardens once a year. The event is broadcast by USA Network and for a couple of hours the country gets to look at lots of interesting breeds and to cheer on their favorites. The show is broadcast over two nights with only the "Group" stage competition broadcast. That's where the breed winners compete within their assigned groups.

For a hound dog lover like me, it can be rather strange to see a massive Irish Wolfhound compete against a Dachshund -- actually, three Dachshunds because they come in Longhaired, Smooth and Wirehaired, but you knew that.

Last night, the night I forgot to record, featured four groups: Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding -- you'll have to look them up on the Westminster site to figure out what they mean. Suffice to say that I like the big dogs, not those "toys".

For quite a number of years we owned a Scottish Deerhound, the most amazingly beautiful breed, hands down (OK, you can have your favorite, I suppose). The Scottish Deerhound is pretty rare in the US -- in fact, there aren't really that many worldwide, but they are amazing animals. But a Deerhound has never won the Best in Show award at Westminster.

But "Hickory", owned by Sally Sweatt, Cecilia Dove and Dr R. Scott Dove, won its breed judging, then took first place in the Hound group. (Just to be fair: a beagle came in second, a Norweigan Elkhound took third, a Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeen (or PBGB for short) was fourth.)

So tonight they will judge the remaining three groups -- Sporting, Working and Terrier -- and then it's on to Best in Show. So tonight could be the night a Deerhound breaks through.