‘The National Dog Show’ is extremely good

Make some time for your furry friends this Thanksgiving Day. (Jim Allen/ Flickr, Creative Commons)

It’s noon Thanksgiving day.

You look up from your phone and see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come to a close on your TV. Your uncle reaches for the remote, mumbling something like, “I think the football game is on FOX.”

This year, make a stand. Convince your family to keep on NBC and bask in the glory that is “The National Dog Show,” presented by Purina.

For those not in the know, “The National Dog Show” is the Super Bowl of pretty dogs. All recognized purebred breeds parade around an events center in suburban Philadelphia (whoop whoop!). The dozens of breeds, each of which have already own “Best of Breed;” or, “My French Bulldog is Better Than Everyone Else’s,” are sorted into seven categories: herding, toy, terrier, hound, non-sporting, working and sporting. At the end of the program, the seven finalists “compete” for Best in Show.

Important side note: Mutts are fantastic and deserve love. I’ve had my girl Kaely for over 14 years now, and I got to see her for the first time since August last weekend. We think she is a Border Collie mix, but we’re not sure. She’s amazing and I love her.

Anyways, by “compete,” I don’t really mean exert any energy like an agility dog would. Not at all. The agility dog is to the show-dog world as basketball is to the spelling bee. Each dog stands on a cute little pedestal while a judge inspects their proportions, which is accompanied by a hilarious close-up of this dog that looks immensely uncomfortable, if dogs can do that. After their close encounter, the dogs are placed back on the floor of the arena and walked around in a loop to show their walking forms, or something? I don’t really know why they do that. I’m a fan, not an expert. It’s so much fun, regardless.

That’s what makes “The National Dog Show” so wonderful — the subtleties of it. I’m fully aware I’m coming off as a pretentious music critic about an annual dog show, but I stand by it. Tune into the broadcast at any moment and you’ll find a morsel to savor.

Something small that I love is that each dog is named something ridiculous, but their nickname is normal. The 2017 champion, a darling Brussels Griffon, had an official name of “GCH Somerset Wynzall Hashtag.” His “call name” was Newton. Talk about extra.

Additionally, the broadcasters are a delight. It’s easy to make something like football or wrestling exciting, but the “NDS” broadcasters don’t aim to get you on the edge of your seats. Rather, they look to paint the picture of what each dog means. In my brief research for this love letter to the show-dog universe, I found some superb quotables. One of the announcers quips that the Toy Fox Terrier, “is truly a dog for all seasons.” What does that mean? I don’t care, it’s great.

Later in the program, he comes back again with the zinger, “This is the Chinese Shar-Pei, yes. You know can tell from his beautiful folds.” Same! He adds, “They’re also supposed to have a purple tongue,” which was immediately followed by the judge prying this poor dog’s mouth open to confirm that yes, the Shar-Pei’s tongue was purple. What shade of purple is a Shar-Pei’s tongue supposed to be, according to AKC standards? “Blue-black,” according to its website. The more you know.

At the end of the day, one pooch is bestowed “top dog” amongst the crowd. To them, it’s just another day in the life of being a happy dog. To their trainers, handlers and groomers, it might just be the best day of their lives.

“The National Dog Show” is one of many things that make Thanksgiving special to me. I’ll be rooting for the Husky this year.


Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.