Tube Talk: Westminster Dog Show airs Feb. 12-13

It’s that time of year again when dogs rule the airwaves for two consecutive nights as the 131st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show airs live on USA at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 12 and Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Anyone planning to adopt a dog needs to watch the show. Not only are the dogs cute, but you’ll learn about certain traits and needs of various breeds. But you don’t have to love dogs to enjoy the show.

Every year, someone I work with who doesn’t have a dog (and doesn’t want one) speaks fondly of the Terrier Group. I prefer the Working and Herding Groups. My least favorite? Toys. Little yippy dogs always strike me as more unpredictable and potentially vicious than, say, a big, old, lumbering Rottweiler.

Of course, my sister-in-law’s lovable Rottie, Clooney, just might have something to do with my opinion, but I admit my overall fondness for big dogs. An acquaintance has three Great Dane littermates—Elway, Zoe and Daisy. I remember being at their house one day, on a little second-story balcony when I heard their person tell one of them, “Stop chewing the roof!” (That was after Elway showed me the bathroom sink—his water bowl. Hey, better a sink than a toilet.) A friend who lives in Maine has two very large and beautiful Bernese Mountain dogs, Molly and Sam. I see their photos and wish I could give them a hug. Aside from being adorable, the people-loving Molly has a side job as a Ministry Dog, visiting church members whenever and wherever she can.

For me, the best big dog ever was my late, great, Doggie Bear. He was a 100-pound Shepherd-Husky mix with gorgeous blue eyes. When someone at his obedience class snootily asked what breed he was, I replied, “Siberian Shepherd.” The next week, she told me she hadn’t been able to find out anything about that breed. You should have seen her reaction when she realized Bear was the result of canine genetic roulette!

Bear discovered the WKC Dog Show as I was flipping channels. Something caught his eye, or ear, and he was transfixed. Each year when the show was on, he’d multitask by lying down, playing with his toys and staring at the TV. I still don’t know why, but every time an Old English Sheepdog came on, Bear stood up and stuck his nose right in front of the TV screen.

My current dog, Lily (a husky-collie-keeshond mix who at a mere 55 pounds looks like a mini-Bear), has absolutely no interest in the dog show. In past years, my sister’s three dogs have been here while it was on, but only one of them, Stella—a shepherd-and-who-knows-what mix—watched as attentively as Bear once did. So maybe it’s a shepherd thing.

While Terriers and Spaniels always seem to win Best in Show, every now and then a big dog takes the top prize, as a Newfoundland did in 2004. I hope another big dog wins this year.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine, Variety, and Rockford Life, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.

From the Feb. 7-13, 2007, issue

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