Before I forget - here are two links you may want to go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHvgGNBJ7vQ this is a video of Delsin taken with his christmas toy on Jan 3 2012 (this year!)
http://www.facebook.com/WKCDogShow this is the Westminster Kennel Club facebook page - and if you scroll down, you will see a photo of Delsin and I in the ring with a very nice story of us.
Ahhhh....the pre-show jitters are emerging! After a fairly sleepless night of listening to jackhammers, sirens,and horns honking on the street below our hotel window(all night long!) combined with the adrenaline rushing through my body, my usually calm demeanor is taking a hit!
Today is all about figuring out the show - as we show tomorrow and I want to be prepared and know what I am getting myself into! But first Denise and I go for a walk with Delsin and Mick, to see if we can find any place - anyplace at all that is green, so the boys can pee or even poop.
It is going through the hotel and onto the streets that I begin to realize the size of this event. I am used to going to dog shows and have been showing for 30 some years. While I recognise that exhibitors are spending a lot of money to be at this NYC show, I have failed to realize that people come from all over the country to be a SPECTATOR! People are simply hanging out at the hotels that allow dogs - sitting and waiting for the dogs to walk by, or sitting by the inside poo and pee areas - just to see their favorite breeds or have a chance to pet them. Cameras and cell phones continually take pictures wherever Delsin and Mick go. I have to admit, it is a bit mind boggling for me.
Once on the street, there are times we can only take a few steps forward before a crowd descends upon us. Delsin loves it. Mick loves it. They eat up the attention, leaning against one person after another. Everyone knows that we are there for the big dog show. Some are tourists, some or simply folks that live or work in Manhattan. All ages, races, shapes and sizes of people come to see the dogs. All are supportive, friendly, interested. It is very cool!
Denise,Delsin and Mick hang out for a breather on a more quiet street corner.
Delsin out on the streets of NYC getting pets from his many admirers!
Mick looking for a place to pee in a planter that he was eventually kicked out of
by the building security. Oh, where is a boy to pee????
It takes us a good 1.5 hours to walk around 2 blocks with the dogs. People, people, people. The dogs still are lovin' it, Denise and I are hungry. We stop at a deli, and I hold the 2 boys while Denise goes in and gets us two breakfast sandwiches. The shop owner stare out the window, pointing at the two dogs, smiling. A guy walks by with his buddy, abruptly stops and says "my wife really wants one of these" in the direct east costs manner. He wants a picture, that is fine by me. What I didn't know is that HE wanted to be in the picture and he hands his buddy the cell phone camera, kneels down next to Delsin and wraps his arms around my dog in one fast, swift move. Good thing my dog has a stable temperament..as this total stranger hugs my boy hard for the picture.
Denise emerges with the breakfast goods and we make haste to our hotel room to eat in peace. Man, GOOD breakfast sandwiches, made to order and on very fresh and tasty rolls. McDonald's has a long ways to go! :)
We leave the boys in the hotel room and head to Madison Square Gardens! My nerves are all "alive" as I go in....wow...I am here! I enter the exhibitor entrance so I know exactly where to come the next day when I have Delsin in tow: up the ramp, around the corner, up the freight elevator, down a hall and INTO CROWDS. Jammed packed immediately. We attempt to find the benching area, but I am confused, as I see no benches, see no breeds together - it looks like a regular dogs show, only much more crowded. I figure I must be in the handlers all-breed area and not think much of it. We go into the arena instead. It is the place everyone sees on TV. Green carpet and maroon ropes for ring barriers. It is just like TV only so, so much more intense. We have no dogs, so we are just one of the crowd and can navigate fairly easily. But to get to ring side?: Forget it!!! 4,5, or 6 people deep. I can see why it is recommended to allow 1/2 hour to get to your ring when showing a dog here.
This photo I am standing at one end of the arena looking down the center "aisle" -
which obviously is no longer much of an aisle.
We head back to the benching area - I am determined to find the "bench". I grew up doing benched shows and knew what to expect: Elevated benches that exhibitors put their crated dogs on for the duration of the show. Of course, this being Westminster and all, the benches would have the Westminster colors and insignias. It would be classy!
We look at look. But it just is a typical grooming area for a regular dog show. Except for it being way more crowded and close together. What the heck?? I find the Westminster booth and tell them I am a new exhibitor and how to I go about finding out where I bench the next day - and ARE there benches?
I find out no, that this year, with the major reconstruction in MSG, there are no benches(due to lack of space), and as exhibitors arrive, they will be assigned a spot. Not assigned with their breed, but in whatever order they come in. Wow. That is a change - a very big change. But at least I know what to expect when I bring Delsins crate and grooming equipment over later that evening.
A corgi (Pembroke) passed out on top of his crate as spectators walk by.
We decide to go up into the stands to try and see the show and get a better perspective. We watch the afghans being judged for awhile:
From this angle, one can better appreciate how the spectators surrounded each ring.
And from this wider angle, that on the show floor, there is no room to move outside of the rings. The open areas is the inside of the ring - so once the exhibitor actually got into the ring,
there was room to breathe!!
Higher up into the stands, the 4 rings can be seen. During the day, there are plenty of seats left in the stand, but in the evening when the groups are judged, the seats all fill.
About 2:30 we head back to the hotel. Denise and I can tell that this show tomorrow is going to be crowded and intense. What have I gotten myself into? But I also feel pumped up. And I know Delsin very well: he will love the intensity, the attention, then marveling crowds.
I have a 3:00 pm appointment to give Delsin his final bath before the show. In our hotel (Pennsylvania,) in a room next to the dog pee area, for a fee, I could reserve a tub to wash Delsin. Excellent idea. A friend that had arrived to the Gardens on Thursday has reserved a time and the large bathtub for us....much to Delsin's dismay:
The last chance to get any mud (or worse) off from our farm lifestyle!!
After the bath, it was up on the groom table to blow out Delsins coat, put the final trim on his feet and ears. He looks and feel great and when we walk through the lobby after his bath, I am sure I hear extra ohhhs and aaahhhs....
Dinner was nothing extra special - a disappointment since we are in NY where there are a ton wonderful restaurants. But it was close, it fill us up and we could then get through the evening routine of the dogs to the indoor pee and and pray that they will go.
While at the pee area, there is a vendors booth set up with dog treadmills. Now Delsin has never been on a treadmill before, but he gets a ton of exercise and he could use a little now that we are on-leash in the Big City. Hmmm...I have a video of him on it, but having technical difficulties getting it to load. Check back for that....
Monday evening we head back to the Garden to see the groups. As I sat in my seat, over looking the group ring, thinking of being there, of showing in the morning......ahhhhh, all is fine in the world. It is great to be here!
There are 4 groups on, on Monday evening. We watch the first, then make a mad-dash back to the hotel to pick up Delsin's crate and grooming stuff, and head back to the Gardens with it...as the Tuesday exhibitors can set up after 9:00 on Monday night. We arrive at the door about 9:30, the line isn't too long and we get in and set up. Cramped, cramped quarters, but it will be "home" for a day.
Back to see the last group of the evening - the herding group. It is fantastic to take it all in, feel the crowd, hear the applause, and see dogs that love the show. No surprise that the herding group winner is the German Shepherd: big name dog on big named handler.
Back to the room, another long walk down the hall (we are WAAAAY down at the end of the hall on the 14th floor) down the elevator, down another hall - to the pee area. While I am there, Delsin hops onto the treadmill for another few minutes. He watches his feet...confused that the sidewalk keeps moving, But he is cool with it, wags his tail...he likes new experiences. It keeps him young, it keeps him happy.
Tomorrow is the big day!