Frei provided the voice of the show for 26 years
He was a good boy.
This year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be bittersweet for legions of the show’s fans, but it’s not the fault of any of the animals.
No, the pall cast over the proceedings is because of David Frei, the WKCDS’s commentator of 26 years, who will be retiring after this year’s show concludes Tuesday night.
Frei, 66, walks the floor of the show, clad in a tuxedo. Until late last year, he was also the Club’s head of communications, which required him to pull double duty, liaising with the media and the dogs, while the show was going on.
Frei, who has a charity for training therapy dogs called Angel on a Leash, was known for his humorous descriptions of different breeds. On beagles: “A nose with four feet attached.” Shiba Inus are “smart in an evil sort of way — don’t send me cards and letters.” Otterhounds: “Look like they’re always 20 minutes late.”
His departure, he says, was precipitated by the club itself, which pressured him to decide whether to continue voicing their show or that of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show. The issue first arose in 2012, but came to a head lats year after Westminster inked a deal with Fox Sports to broadcast the show for 10 years starting in 2017. (Formerly, both shows Frei commentated for were broadcast on NBC.)
“It would be very unusual to have one person announce the same kind of event for two networks,” Sean McCarthy, the president of the club, told The New York Times. “We didn’t believe he should do both. So he resigned. It was his decision.”
“We think the world of David. He’s a founding father, one of the originals calling the dog show. So we’re disappointed.”
Frei is at peace with his decision, and has no regrets — at least not yet: “I guess that’s going to hit me sometime Tuesday night,” he said.