>Journalist Josh Dean chronicles a year in the life of a show dog and peeks behind the scenes at Westminster.

WINNING DOESN’T COME CHEAP

It’s almost impossible to land the big shows if you haven’t spent well into the six figures on handlers, travel, food, etc.

NO ONE’S IN IT FOR THE PRIZES

Your average show pays, like, $500.

THE GROOMING IS CRAZY

Poodles are a four-hour project. And dogs aren’t supposed to be altered, but everyone puts chalk on white dogs. You pat them and white dust goes flying.

THE CONTESTANTS HAVE FUN

I talked to a dog psychologist. He said pleasing people and performing tasks makes dogs happy.

THERE ARE ALWAYS NEW BREEDS

One is the Norwegian Lundehund (see page 91 for more breeds). They’re bred to hunt puffins, have up to 10 toes on each foot and can wedge into crevices Bugs Bunny style!

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