I am standing on line waiting for an elevator at Pier 92 off of the West Side Highway, surrounded by well-groomed men and women in sequin jackets and bow ties who are chattering away while their equally well-groomed pure bred companions sniff the air aimlessly. All of the dogs are exceedingly polite except one—a Dalmatian who starts tap dancing in place trying to get his owner’s attention.
The Dalmatian’s owner ignores him until he starts barking, but she doesn’t reach down to stroke him or put him at ease; instead she stomps her foot back at him, and apologizes to the other owners. “He’s impatient,” she says to her human friends, before turning back to her favorite grump and addressing his pleas directly: “It won’t open any faster that way!” They are bickering like an old couple, with barely any physical affection, and no one raises a finely-plucked eyebrow at it.
This is one scene you’ll see as you mill about the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which left a trail of slobber all the way from W. 55th Street to Madison Square Garden this week. Altogether there were 199 breeds and over 2,700 dogs, as well as three times as many groomers, handlers and owners, who turned out for the 140th edition of the show.