Reflections from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2013

February 18, 2013

AMC boothEvery year when the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) dog show comes to New York City, The AMC goes to the dogs. The Animal Medical Center sets up a vendor booth in the middle of the benching area, which was held this year at Pier 92/94 overlooking the Hudson River, instead of the usual location in the outer ring basement of Madison Square Garden. The new space was so much more spacious than the old space and everyone I talked to hope this new location would be the start of a new tradition.

Only a few cat questions

Not surprisingly, the majority of veterinary questions were asked about dogs. A few slightly embarrassed people walked up to the booth and sheepishly asked permission to have a cat question answered. This reluctance of cat owners to ask cat health questions mirrors one of the current feline healthcare issues: cat owners are providing less healthcare for their cats than dog owners provide for their dogs.

Food, food, food

One of the most frequent topics discussed with pet owners at The AMC booth was pet food which has also been a common topic here at Fur the Love of Pets.

At the dog show, several pet owners asked, Which is better, dry or canned food?” Some cat owners had heard the myth: dry food is bad for your cat and others heard dogs should have a mixture of dry and canned food. Both of these are pet food mythsIf you have a healthy dog, cat, puppy or kitten, my guidelines for choosing a pet food include:

  • Food that carries the AAFCO nutritional adequacy label
  • Matching your pets life-stage and species, (i.e. puppy food for a puppy)
  • Food that is easy for you to obtain
  • Food that your pet likes

The choice between canned and dry belongs to you and your pet; however, dogs and cats with medical conditions may benefit from a particular type of food.

Intersection of animal and human health

One of the visitors at our booth was a physician. We chatted a bit about the similarities between veterinary and human medicine. This too has been a common theme in my blogs. Pets and their people share infections like Salmonellaget similar cancers, such as melanomaand everyone gets sick with the flu. The physician was surprised to find out The AMC staff consists of 92 veterinarians, 30 who are board certified specialists and five who hold two certifications.

Thanks

Possibly the best part of staffing The AMC booth was talking with the grateful pet owners who came to say thank you to The AMC. Those kind words and smiling faces are what makes my job, and the job of every veterinarian worthwhile – every day.


Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2012

February 20, 2012

AMC's Westminster Booth

In the exhibit area at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, The Animal Medical Center joins Angels on a Leash, Take the Lead, the ASPCA and others to answer medical questions from show attendees and provide them with AMC goodie bags. Old friends often stop by to thank us for care we have given to a beloved pet.

One dog lover told the story of her Afghan Hound that fell off a ledge a the Brooklyn Public Library, puncturing a lung and fracturing both front legs. She reported the ER staff at AMC repaired both legs with metal rods and fixed the puncture, restoring the dog to full health. Another visitor to the booth was a veterinary colleague from out of town. On the way into the show ring, her Labrador Retriever was bitten on the ear by a dog on the way out of the show ring dashing the dog’s chances of a ribbon. We called The AMC and arranged for her dog to have the ear repaired. The ill-behaved dog has since been banished from competition.

Doggy restroom line

Line for the restroom

The Westminster Show is the one of the oldest continuous sporting events held in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby. Like many big sporting events it is held in a huge sporting area, Madison Square Garden. Like many big sporting events, there are lines. In the case of the Westminster Show, the line to use the doggy restroom is a bit unconventional since the restroom is unisex– it has chain link walls and is filled with sawdust chips! The photograph to the right shows the restroom line late on Tuesday afternoon which resembles the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium.

Benched!

In most sporting events, hearing your coach say the words, “you’re benched” might be devastating to an athlete. Not so at the Westminster Show, since this is considered a “bench show.” The benching area, just off the ring in the basement of Madison Square Garden, has endeared the show to attendees who come by the thousands. The benched dogs spend all day with their handlers meeting the adoring public and getting petted so much, it seems their meticulously groomed coats could be rubbed off. For a photo album of the great dogs I got to meet in the benching area, visit The AMC’s Facebook page.

What’s in a name?

While in the benching area I struck up a conversation with CH Darby Canyon Gracie’s Fellini, a Spinone Italiano. I inquired about his name, which was listed on his crate as Rico. The woman sitting with Rico said her name was Grace and all her dogs have Grace in their names. Because he is of Italian descent, the Fellini part of Rico’s name comes from the famous Italian director Frederico Fellini and Frederico has been truncated to Rico which is the call name of this handsome creature.

And the winner is….

A member of The AMC family! CH Palacegarden Malachy, the winning Pekingese and now Best in Show is co-owned by Professor Iris C. Love, an avid dog lover and member of The AMC’s’ Board of Trustees.

Malachy’s physical attributes make great copy. The LA Times called him a bobbing pompom; MSNBC described him as the love child of Chewbacca and an Ewok; and meanwhile Malachy made appearances on the morning news shows sitting on a blue tuffet like Miss Muffett!

Watch a composite video of Malachy and his winning performances at the Garden:

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This may also be found in the Tales from the Pet Clinic blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


What Was Best about Best in Show?

February 16, 2011

Empire State Building. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

Last night was the grand finale of the 135th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. By all measures, the event was grand. The purple and gold Empire State building illuminated New York City while 179 breeds were whittled down to a single, Best in Show dog. The Animal Medical Center team worked hard in our booth and in the Westminster booth rolling and packing signed posters purchased in support of the AMC’s Postgraduate Education Programs.

David Fitzpatrick and Malachy. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

The successful WKC Show struck me as being different than in previous years. The media presence was huge — note the photo of Malachy the Pekingese being interviewed by Fox News.

The group winners were not breeds seen every day on the streets of New York, and haven’t been big winners at past WKC Shows. The size variation between the Best in Show competitors could not have been greater. Even the judge was unique — the first Italian to ever judge WKC Best in Show.

The dogs showing at the WKC Show are divided into seven groups and the seven group winners move up to the Best in Show competition. Last night, the seven dogs — Scottish Deerhound, Shar Pei, Bearded Collie, Portuguese Water Dog, Black Cocker Spaniel, Smooth Coated Fox Terrier and Pekingese — represented less common breeds and infrequent winners. The Pekingese last won in 1960, the Black Cocker Spaniel in 1941 and the Smooth Coated Fox Terrier in 1910. The Scottish Deerhound has been shown at the WKC show since the very first show, but it has not previously won a Best in Show.

The view from Madison Square Garden. Photo: Dr. Philip Fox

The Best in Show competition involves the dog version of a catwalk around the floor of Madison Square Garden. Keep in mind this floor accommodates a basketball court, a hockey rink and next week, Lady Gaga and her fans. No problem for the leggy Scottish Deerhound to waltz back and forth over the AstroTurf covering the floor. The same goes for the Smooth Coated Fox Terrier who moved like the Energizer Bunny; but the poor little Pekingese must have taken ten times as many steps as the Deerhound to complete his show ring trip due to his small stature.

From my vantage point, opposite the judging table, there was not a clear crowd favorite. Some years you can predict the winner based on the decibels of cheering from the audience. If that had been true, the Bearded Collie would have taken home the trophy. The person to my right whispered the Pekingese would be hard to beat and the person to my left was betting on the Shar Pei.

Even though the regal Scottish Deerhound, Hickory, took home the most prestigious prize in dogdom, the best part of Best in Show was that last night “Dogs Ruled.”

This blog may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog from WebMD.

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For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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