2016 Westminister/AKC Meet & Compete | A Great Success
Once again, New York City “went to the dogs” on the week of the Westminster Kennel Club Show. On Saturday, February 13, people thronged the annual AKC Meet the Breeds booths. This was the second year that the event was combined with Westminster’s Masters Agility Championship event, giving spectators a chance to watch the exciting agility competition as well as learn about more than 150 breeds from the experts.
At times, it seemed like most of the thousands of spectators visited the Shih Tzu booth. They wanted to show us pictures of their Shih Tzu, pet and photograph the dogs at the booth, receive grooming demonstrations, and ask questions about whether this was the right breed for them and how to find a responsible breeder who could mentor them for the life of the furry creature they wanted to add to their household. Our three demonstration dogs, 11-year-old retired champion Codi, 6-year-old Quinlan, and 6-year-old Babe, were veterans of this event and performed admirably. All were in full coat, with Codi’s hair trailing several inches on the ground. This gave the booth (and his path from the outside exercise pen and our booth) a bit of added decoration—the wood shavings he brought inside with him! Nothing like a canine mop! Other booth decorations featured photos of Shih Tzu in a variety of pet clips for those who wanted to go that route, Shih Tzu with many different colors and markings, Shih Tzu performing various tasks, and information about the history and personality of the breed. Also provided were a lot of ASTC brochures pertaining to the breed in addition to the basic flier provided by the AKC.
A huge thank you to Babe’s owner Margaret Scancarello and to Codi and Quinlan’s owners Pete and Marge Varetoni (pictured), who came in from New Jersey with their dogs to help out. They were wonderful ambassadors for our breed—knowledgeable and personable long-time fans. ASTC member Kathy Kwait brought many of the brochures and other items needed in the booth into the city on Friday even though she was unable to help man the booth this year. Unfortunately Kathy, like most area breeders and Shih Tzu exhibitors in the city for Westminster, were at the Metropolitan New York Shih Tzu specialty at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Saturday and unable to attend Meet the Breeds. Jo Ann White flew in from Florida to decorate and coordinate this year’s Meet the Breeds, and said that Pier 92 was actually warmer than the NYC apartment where she spent the weekend during a spell of record-breaking cold. While being interviewed for a television series on purebred dog breeds, Jo Ann commented that the Shih Tzu is a “big dog in a little package,” and that she got her first Shih Tzu in 1967 while living in a small apartment on New York City’s Upper West Side. All together, Meet the Breeds was a wonderful way to educate the dog-loving public about our wonderful breed.