Yesterday afternoon I joined a friend for a few hours at the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show at Madison Square Garden. It was the first time I had been to a dog show. Seeing so many different dogs, of unfamiliar and familiar breeds, and all of the finest type,—man’s best friend at his best—was a wonderful experience.
The floor of the Garden was divided into five rectangular areas called rings, where best of breed events were going on simultaneously. You could watch these events, either from the floor or from the stands, and you could also walk around in the area outside of and surrounding the Garden, where the dogs were being held and prepared, and look at the dogs from up close and talk to their handlers, who were friendly and accessible.
Experiencing all those wonderful animals, our fellow creatures, in all their variety, was … the right word is not “uplifting,” but refreshing and renewing.
Also, it’s pleasant to think about the existence of a whole sub-culture of people whose attention is fixed not on politics and such things, but on dogs.
After the best of breed was chosen in the 170 different recognized breeds over a two day period, there was a “best in show” event last evening (the winner is described here). But how can dogs of different breeds be compared with each other? Aren’t the standards all different? As a lady explained to us, the best in show is the dog which comes closest to the standard for its breed. In other words, if the best Bullmastiff comes closer to the ideal Bullmastiff than the best Portuguese Water Dog comes to the ideal Portuguese Water Dog, then the Bullmastiff wins. It’s very Platonic.
I thought my phrase, “man’s best friend at his best,” was pretty good. Then I googled it and found it was far from original.Joseph C. writes:
It was refreshing to read your entry on Westminster.Christopher B. writes from England:
I enjoyed reading about the dog show. A bit different from your usual entries. But I am surprised to see such an elitist and “Anglo” name as WESTMINSTER Kennel Club in the modern day U.S. In fact, it seems to be a name which is very much out of place in America today (but probably all right in Canada). Since this seems to be a public event, I wonder how much longer before there is pressure to change it to a more “inclusive” name.LA replies:
You are overstating the problem, or seeing a problem where there isn’t one. There are all sorts of places, towns, institutions in America with Anglo names.February 17
Christopher B. replies:
Yes, you are right. What brought this to mind was two photos I recently saw of probably the same cross-section of a California redwood (?) in some museum or other in California. The first was about 1950, and had the tree rings marked with things like the Battle of Hastings, the Magna Carta, the Thirty Years War, Alexander Graham Bell born, etc. In the modern photo these were replaced with things like “First Settlement of XYZ Native Americans in …”, “Booker T. Washington born”, etc. I wonder for what percentage of the US population the word “Westminster” has any resonance.Leonard K. writes:
You write:LA replies:
I think there is some truth in that statement, but it needs to be qualified. In some ways different types of people cannot be compared with each other by the same standards, in other ways they can.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 16, 2011 07:22 PM | Send