Indeed the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held recently over the course of two days in New York City, but there are many aspects of the show that are not hands-on dog but rather for the dog lover that is the common thread of us all.
If one has never been to New York City during Westminster week, affectionately termed so for all of the hype, events, and activities that surround the two-day dog show extravaganza itself, behold because yours truly was on assignment recently in the Big Apple.
Considering visiting the Garden during the big dog show but not sure what else to do that is dog themed? Aside from the dog-friendly restaurants, stores, and dog parks that welcome canines, there are many things dog lovers can do with (and without) their dogs. Here are few of the off-the-beaten path dog-themed things to consider:
Visit the William Secord Gallery
Like dog paintings, drawings, art work, and such? In the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side resides the only gallery in North America to specialize in 19th century dog and animal paintings. Its founding director, William Secord, is a world authority of 19th century dog painting and author of many esteemed books on the topic.
For those who prefer not to venture outside the Garden during Westminster, behold: There is a section on the vendor floor of the Garden that features artwork from the gallery, many for sale. For any dog lover who wants to dive into the rich history of dogs depicted in art, this is a must-see on the checklist of “off the beaten path” things to see and do while visiting New York City for the dog show.
Here are few of the beauties on display (and for sale) at the Garden during this year’s Westminster Dog Show:
People and Pooch Watch in the Lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania
This is one of the coolest, most fun activities to do with our without a dog by one’s side. I am fortunate enough to take my dog with me when I travel, and for those times that he cannot be with me, a family member pooch sits for me. However, many of the dogs that show during the two days of Westminster stay with their owners/handlers at the Hotel Pennsylvania. It is right across the street from Madison Square Garden. The lobby tends to be buzzing with excitement, activity, celeb spotting (of the 2- and 4-legged variety), and to sit there with a beverage (restaurants, snacks, and beverages abound) with a dog by your side is a blast. I also have a dog that is a social butterfly and gives the stare down to strangers, wanting them to say hello and perhaps share a few belly rubs.
During my few hours of fun in the lobby (with pretty ample seating), I met many show dogs, watched a woman sing some sort of operatic song with her bedazzled dog by her side, and my pooch, Dexter, was wished good luck in the show ring. No, he doesn’t compete but his wigglebutt would win best in show if there were such an award.
Pre-Westminster Fashion Show
This grand spectacle at the Hotel Pennsylvania took place on Friday, February 10 this year, as a kickoff to the weekend of Westminster. This pre-party was masquerade style and included celebrities, dogs dressed up, owners in grand style, and plenty of dancing, fun, and festive tail wagging. In addition, a dog wedding took place and dog lovers were able to mingle and get their canine groove on. Check out the Pre-Westminster Fashion Show news here.
Fans can get up close and personal with the dogs and their handlers in the benching area of Westminster. Ever wish to have a backstage pass for one of the coolest dog shows to grace a garden? A ticket to Westminster ensures that, as dogs are on display and often being groomed, walked, doted upon, and readied for ring trials. Have a question about a particular breed? Maybe you always wanted to know why an Old English Sheepdog’s eyes are covered with hair or why some dogs have webbed feet? Ask away, as most of the handlers are happy to answer questions. Insider tip: Lean against a wall or take a seat on the concrete and just watch. More dogs and their handlers will pass by along with spectators and celebs sometimes than you can imagine. Lots of fun to star gaze!
If shopping is more your cup of tea and off-the-beaten path dog-themed items are up your alley, take a gander to the vendor area at the Garden. A nice way to break up the day, there are t-shirts and souvenirs, dog themed bling jewelry and trinkets, and much more. Several companies have sponsored booths there, too, and there were a few areas that caught our eye: the free engraved tags for dogs section, the AKC poster booth with this year’s winning poster and runners up, and the many grooming tools and primping products for sale (for us white dog owners, thanks for this).
In addition to the show itself, the offerings of the city, and the many events circulating around this time of year, as long as the weather cooperates there are many outdoor things to explore and indoor finds in which to partake during the days leading up to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.