Herb Benham

Monday, Feb 18 2013 05:04 PM

Big dog show has him begging for more

By Herb Benham

First, New York.We did the best thing. The most fun. I know, I sound like a high school kid, but the Westminster Dog Show will bring out the bubbly in a person.We recently returned from New York. We didn't go to see a dog show, but we were there, looking for excitement and after the movie "Best in Show," how can you pass up the Westminster Dog Show, the movie's inspiration?

There is nothing happier than a dog show. I had no idea. Had I known, I would have been raising affenpinschers.

Twenty five bucks? It was worth $100. I've never see so many people smiling. It was, to quote my friend Jim, "A retreat into the happy place."

I'm sure the dog show world can get fussy. Tense. Perhaps even twisted.

Not if you're a spectator. Not if you like cute. Not if you remember what it was like to get a puppy at Christmas or on your birthday.

We went Monday and the preliminary rounds took place at Piers 92 and 94 at West 55th Street and the West Side Highway. That probably doesn't mean much to you -- it didn't to me -- but what it did mean was the cavernous room was packed with dogs, and every dog was beautiful.

Breeds that you didn't think were beautiful were beautiful.

Corgis. I never thought much of a corgi, but suddenly, a Pembroke Welsh corgi stopped me dead in my tracks as if it were a beautiful painting at the Guggenheim.

On the way to the dog show, we saw a billboard that read, "New York has more than 100 museums, and you don't have to visit any of them."

You do, we did, but other than the Monet painting of the Agapanthus at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) -- which I initially thought was pronounced "momma" -- I'd put the corgi in second place, ahead of Edward Munch's The Scream.

Museums are great, but contrast the Guggenheim and MOMA with the dog show, and the museums come in second.

People are generally cross in museums. They know they should like all the masterpieces, but they don't and they can't figure out why.

Great art is tiring. Standing is tiring, Picasso is tiring, even Zarina, the artist with one name, brings on great exhaustion.

On the other hand, the corgi cocking its head at you while standing on the grooming table makes your heart happy. The dog looked at the parade of spectators flowing by as if they were the most interesting people in the world.

These dogs were like actors. They looked good, they smelled good and they knew how to mug for the camera.

The owners were friendly and encouraged spectators to take pictures and to pet their dogs. Friendly was part of it, but the owners were also trying to build a fan base for the dogs' time in the ring.

Don't worry, I'm on the corgi team. This dog was like Bruce Springsteen. You go on the road, I'll go on the road with you.

The building was like a lovathon. Had there not been a roof, the entire floor could have floated to heaven and no one would have even looked down.

After my newly awakened corgi love, I fell for Winston, the beagle. Winston had his own postcard. The card had a picture of him on the cover and read, "I met Winston."

Winston was so bright and fetching that it wouldn't have surprised me if he had reached down with his paw and passed out the postcards himself.

You could have sold Winston a thousand times over. I would have sold my 1991 Chevy Silverado for that dog, but I would have probably had just enough for the tail. The paws I would have had to have bought separately.

We stayed for two hours and then went to a restaurant that we were told served the best hamburgers in New York. I liked it, and I'm guessing Winston would have too.

Given his pedigree, he may have eaten there before.

These are Herb Benham's opinions and not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at hbenham@bakersfield.com.

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