All Dog Show Photos by Patty Michels
At five years old, I made an announcement. “I’m not going to get pregnant with a baby when I grow up. I’m going to have puppies!”
In junior high my friends whispered and pointed when a senior with a hip mushroom cut sauntered by, but I only had eyes for the giant German Shepherd who paced the yard across from school. “He totally looked right at me,” I squealed.
Meanwhile, my future Significant Other grew up enamored with a family member’s Boxer that threw up with excitement whenever she came over to play. “He did that because of me!” She said.
She’s an amazing driver, my SO, her record marred by a single incident wherein she rear-ended a truck paused at a red light. Why? She couldn’t tear her gaze from a wind-ruffled retriever in an adjacent car.
Not long after we met she told me with total sincerity and absolutely no prompting, “We need to have puppies together.”
So when the International Kennel Club of Chicago asked me to check out their annual International Cluster of Dog Shows, I knew I’d found the perfect anniversary present. Okay, that’s a lie. Never once in five years have I remembered our anniversary, but this year instead of belatedly running to Seven-11 to buy SO a Twix bar and a copy of Maxim, we were already at the dog show when she asked if I knew what day it was.
“Of course,” I told her. “Why do you think we’re here?”
She didn’t answer. A Golden Retriever had sauntered past. And he was just the beginning!
Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, IKC show draws 10,000 purebred dogs from 170 breeds, not to mention a whole cache of rescue dogs and anti-cruelty organizations. In a family friendly move, the event is one of few to offer spectators access to the competing dogs. Ringing the booths and competition rings is a benching area where dogs go to bathe, primp and possibly have a post show cigarette. Rather than being cordoned off, the benching area offers attendees the option of meeting and even petting the fluffy show dogs.
When we first arrived we took a spin around the arena. In addition to booths and booths of the kind of crazy merch you can imagine your upsetting elderly neighbor wearing all at once with her pink sweat pants, we saw specialty dog treats, hand made leather leashes, and even Jog A Dog, a treadmill made for dogs.
While SO obsessively stalked a Duck Tolling Retriever who in turn couldn’t tear his gaze from his owner’s ice cream cone, I met my future husband, a Malamute/Newfoundland mix.
We watched as poodles (who just never stop reminding me of giant ants) were judged...
...and Dalmatians were coddled...
The Corgi judging marked an event highlight because who doesn’t love a creature whose ears span half its body length?
Apparently this year’s show, sponsored by Purina, serves to welcome several new breeds into the American Kennel Club--Entlebucher Mountain Dog and Xoloitzcuintli to name two. (I think the second is actually a robot or a modern artist.) Although we didn’t catch a glimpse of either breed I did become enamored with what I’m calling a Victorian Ghost Dog until someone tells me otherwise.
Brilliant, attentive and preternaturally focused, a couple of these spectral pups made eye contact with me and I swear I’ll never be the same. Can’t you just picture them floating around someone’s antique chandelier?
Unfortunately we missed the Puppy Spectacular, which featured six to twelve month old puppies competing for best puppy in show, but it’s probably for the best because it would have given me a heart attack. Too much cute kills.
Later that night I broke out the sequined dress that whiskey and seasonal affective disorder made me buy, and when I asked SO what she was thinking she stared deep into my eyes and said “That retriever was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
To learn more about the IKC Dog Show go here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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