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Westminster Dog Show 2018: Everything you need to know

Thousands of primped and disciplined dogs will descend upon New York City to strut their stuff and show what good dogs are made of.

For three days, Feb. 10, 12-13, there will be almost 3,000 canines within a two-mile area of Manhattan for the 142nd Westminster Kennel Dog Show. That's 2,600 champions, 52 Golden Retrievers, 35 judges, and an ungodly amount of cute.

While the judging is tough as nails with serious implications for the handlers and their hounds, there's much fun to be had by those watching.

Here's what you should know ahead of the Dog Show and some highlights to watch out for:

Can I meet the dogs? Yes, about 120 breeds, actually, but only during an allotted time on Saturday, Feb. 10. The meet and compete event includes time to get up close to the stars of the show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and access to the preliminaries from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the finals from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $32.

When else can I watch the championship? Feb. 12 and 13 is when the show really gets down to business. You can purchase tickets for day time (at Piers 92/94) and evening sessions (at Madison Square Garden).

Feb. 12 includes the judging of hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups, the junior showmanship preliminaries and the obedience championship.

Feb. 13 includes the judging of sporting, working and terrier groups, the junior showmanship finals, group judging and best in show.

You can find tickets here.

Why should I watch? There's going to be champions from around the country and many who won last year are returning, according to Gail Miller Bisher, a spokeswoman for the Westminster Kennel Club.

"It's fun to see the love between a dog and its owner," she said. "You can tell they've spent a lot of time together and every extra hour they have training.

Who gets to select the Best in Show winner? That's Betty-Anne Stenmark from California. She is a breeder, owner and longtime dog club officer who showed her first dog, a Saint Bernard, at a show in 1967. Since then, she's bred Saint Bernards, Salukis, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. If you have any doubts, she's licensed to judge all breeds including Best in Show and she's worked the Westminster show for 11 years.

Can I bring my dog? No. We know your dog is the best good boy in the city, but unless he's a service dog or in the show himself, he cannot attend.

Can I buy merch? Yes, there will be 23 vendors, including kennel club merchandise, Westminster Art, Puppyviewer, Lisa Welsh Designs, Mackenzie Couture, FineARF and more. Your dog will thank you.

How can I watch from home? During the day, tune into Fox Sports GO and between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. After 8 p.m., competitions will be live on FS1.

Three city dogs who are competing this year are below as well as a few photos from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show preview if you're still on the fence:

City dogs represented

Meet Schmutzy (and her brother Plop, left). At
Photo Credit: Lisa Topol

Meet Schmutzy (and her brother Plop, left). At 11 years old, Schmutzy is one of the oldest dogs in the show's agility competition. The task before her requires a jump at 20 inches high and speedy moves around an obstacle course -- but she's ready, her owner Lisa Topol said.

"Schmutzy knows what she knows at this point," she said. "I trust her completely."

The speckled canine, who was a rescue, doesn't belong to any specific breed. WKC puts mixed dogs in what it calls the "All American Dog" category, which is "a fancy way of saying 'mutt,'" Topol said.

"It gives me huge pride [that she competes alongside the purebreds]," she added. "When a dog has heart, a dog has heart. She doesn't have the perfect structure, and when you see her you might think she walks a little funny, and yet she has such passion, drive and love for it and she's so smart that it makes me extra proud when she does so well. You can do this with any dog and have success with any dog."

When she's not training, Schmutzy likes going to Madison Square Park for a jaunt and playing in her Flatiron District backyard.

Homer the Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens (yes, that's
Photo Credit: Shelley Barclay and Mona Stiles

Homer the Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens (yes, that's an actual breed) is a West Village local who is a good pet who happens to show in competitions from time to time -- this being his fourth Westminster Dog Show.

He hasn't yet secured a "best of" title, but he's now training for agility with classes every Sunday and a 2-mile run on his family's treadmill after breakfast each day, according to his owners Shelley Barclay and Mona Stiles.

"People think Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens are cuddly lap dogs, but they're hunters, scent hounds and have a ton of energy," Barclay said. "They're not for the faint of heart. He goes out three times a day and I see people in the neighborhood walk by and say, 'Hi Homer.' Everyone knows Homer."

The 6-year-old, who will be at Saturday's meet and compete event, loves meeting new people "more than anything," Barclay said. This week, he's been getting prettied up for the show, which takes expertise since it has to be done by hand.

"Seeing him going around the ring is kind of special," Barclay said.

This Bearded Collie, Poppet (a name inspired by
Photo Credit: Trudy Wisner

This Bearded Collie, Poppet (a name inspired by the British pet name used in "Pirates of the Caribbean"), is also 11 years old and dominating the agility competition. She has a slew of accolades, including No. 2 Bearded Collie in the U.S., won in an invitational in Florida in 2017.

As an older dog, Poppet trains once a week for three hours at the Staten Island Companion Dog Training Club, where her owner, Trudy Wisner, is the agility director.

"She's done everything I've asked her to do," Wisner said. "When she's in the ring, she runs her heart out and barks her head off."

Poppet is one of a family of bearded collies the Wisners have had for four generations, including her brother "Captain Jack."

When she's not running through the woods with her family, she sometimes works in media --- the latest being in the movie "Trainwreck" with Amy Schumer. Poppet was one of a few dogs in a movie called "The Dog Walker," Wisner said.

"She's an incredible performance dog, an incredible mother and a wonderful partner," she added.

Dogs used to the limelight

This is Chester (a Berger-Picard), Hudson (a Golden
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

This is Chester (a Berger-Picard), Hudson (a Golden Retriever) and Pepe (a Chinese Crested). Each of them have competed but they're also stars of the screen. Chester is a four-time AKC agility champion and has appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and in several commercials. Pepe also is an AKC agility champion and he's been on "SNL," "The Good Cop," and in ads for Barneys and Neiman Marcus. Like his buddies, Hudson has been on "SNL" and in commercials, but he's also been in films "Our Idiot Brother," "Brittany Runs a Marathon," and on "The View."

It's the year of the dog

Look out for breeds like the Shih Tzu,
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Look out for breeds like the Shih Tzu, the Chinese Crested, the Chow Chow, the Pekingese, the Pug and the Chinese Shar- Pei -- it's the year of the dog starting on Feb. 17. Stella, Tabitha and Dreamer (left to right) were introduced at the Westminster Kennel Club preview on Tuesday.

Sweet moves by sweet dogs

Dogs like Hudson have worked hard to get
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Dogs like Hudson have worked hard to get where they are. One of five dogs belonging to handler Christina Potter, Hudson was trained to get used to loud environments so he doesn't get distracted.

"In agility, the environment is very high pressure... but really good energy," she said.

"Dogs have to get used to that cheering and excitement, so most handlers will make sure they do the busier trials to make sure their dogs (get) used to the clapping and cheering."

Dogs typically stay in the ring only 30 to 60 seconds, she said. Potter has been training dogs for 26 years with her husband.

There's a good cause to know about

The Westminster Kennel Club gives $5,000 to three
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

The Westminster Kennel Club gives $5,000 to three rescue groups within each breed club to help them continue their work in saving the animals from dangerous and deadly situations in a program called the Westminster Gives Back Dog Rescue Awards. This year, the Bearded Collie, English Cockers Spaniel and Great Pyrenees breed clubs were awarded. Tiara, a Great Pyrenees, is pictured.


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