By REBECA IBARRA
Over 1,000 four-legged contestants preened and pranced on Manhattan’s Piers on Tuesday, hoping to win a prize at the nation’s most prestigious dog show.
“This is really a beauty contest,” said Matt Szechenyi, proud owner of Csibi (pronounced “sheebee”), a prize-winning Vizsla
In the competition rings, stone-faced judges scrutinized each dog’s gait and ran their hands over the animal’s body, testing the “conformation”.
Csibi and many other dogs, went on a strict diet before the show. Owners packed their fridges with nutritious (and expensive) products like grass-fed beef
Started in the 1870‘s by a group of hunters who met regularly at a Manhattan hotel, the Westminster Kennel Club – which held its 138th annual show on February 10 and 11 – is the second longest-running continuous sporting event in the United States after the Kentucky Derby.
As per competition protocol, Tuesday’s show was “benched,” which meant the dogs were on display to spectators at all times. Ticket-holders fawned over canines standing uncharacteristically still as their owners hair-sprayed, trimmed, powdered and blow-dried away.
“The dog is first, then me,” said Shannon Sintra, who drove in from Maryland with her Cane Corzo, Crembo.
“A healthy dog is a beautiful dog,” Ayalla Ruvio, another Cane Corzo owner, said. “And it is very costly keeping a dog looking healthy.”
Ruvio has spent tens of thousands of dollars on food, supplements and vitamins for her dog Allora. When asked if it was worth it, she said: “What do you think?,” then kissed her dog’s head.
People were quick to speak on their pets’ behalf. “I’ve had a long day,” Odin, a six-year-old Water Spaniel from Seattle, seemed to say, lying flat on the ground. His look of exhaustion vanished, however, the moment he heard the crinkling of a treat bag. “He would rather be out in the field,” Odin’s owner said. “There are no treats on the field, though.
At the end, a wire fox terrier named Sky was declared “best in show” in Madison Square Park Tuesday night.