Monday, February 10, 2014

Westminster Dog Show Love

For the love of dogs...

"Show Dog" from my collection of antique dog photos
One of my favorite events of the year happens in February. No, not Valentine’s Day. And not Super Bowl Sunday. No, this is an event that breaks up the long, long northern winters with fun and excitement and a chance to smile til my face hurts. I’m talking about the Westminster Dog Show!

The 138th show begins airing* tonight from Madison Square Garden. This year the show comprises 3,200 dogs representing 187 breeds—more dogs than any show since 1900! I love, love, love the "canine pageantry," the brilliant announcing, and the commercials that make me cry. Every. Time. They. Run.**

I can’t decide which category is my favorite, probably Toys, Terriers, Non-sporting, or Hounds. I tend to root for the little dogs because they have such attitude, but I have a feeling this is a big-dog year. I grew up with an Irish Setter/Golden Lab mix, so a nice, big farm dog will always be my definition of “DOG.”

In honor of Westminster, I’ve created a list of dog books for you. It’s skewed heavily toward photography, because come February, I think everyone’s ready for a little visual relief—even if you’re not looking at snow piles up to your chin like we are here.

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, John Grogan
Okay, so it’s a little bit manipulative and way bit too sad near the end, but what dog-love list can be complete without Marley?


Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project about Dogs and Physics, Theron Humphrey
Wonderful photography of a well-traveled chill dog.


Dog Songs: Poems, Mary Oliver
Thirty-five wonderful poems spanning the decades of Oliver’s writing.


A Three Dog Life: A Memoir, Abigail Thomas 
Stunning memoir of loss and grief and life.


Dog Years: A Memoir, Mark Doty
Doty is a wonderful writer, and he really brings the dogs to life.


Say Hello to Zorro!, Carter Goodrich
Zorro Gets an Outfit, Carter Goodrich
Wonderfully fun picture books about Mr. Bud and Zorro.


Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, Lori Mortensen, Michael Allen Austin (Ill.)
Dirty Dawg doesn’t cotton to the bathtub.


If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, Roy Blount, Jr. & Valerie Shaff
Wonderful dog portraits coupled with neat little poems.


Unleashed: Poems by Writer’s Dogs, Amy Hempel & Jim Shepard (eds.)
Famous poets write poems in their dogs’ voices. Good stuff.

Dogs, Lewis Blackwell, Tim Flach
Own it but haven't "read" it yet. It looks fabulous!
And two from my wish list:

Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel

101 Salivations: For the Love of Dogs, Rachael Hale


*MP3 downloads of the Purina dog food songs can be downloaded free here. I’m so in!

**The Best in Breed winners will be judged for Best in Group starting tonight (CNBC, 8/7C), concluding with Best in Show tomorrow night (on USA, 8/7C).

Tell me, do you watch the Show? Which breed do you hope wins?



  1. Oh my gosh I LOOOOOVE this! My husband and I were totally joking about how now that they allow mutts - ahem - mixed breed dogs our Tilly (a mutt of a mutt of a mutt) could totally participate. (She's nowhere near show behavior quality though).

    I'm such a dog book fan, too! Can I add one to your list??? Okay, it's two . . . but the second is a sequel. A Dog's Purpose & A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron. I loved them and they made me cry soooo much!

    Thanks for participating in Literary Love 14!

    -Rebecca @ Love at First Book

  2. Isn't that something? I'll have to read up on the decision to allow mixed breeds. I don't get it. It seems counter to the show's purpose.

    Thanks for the dog book suggestions. I'll definitely check them out!