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Coming of Age at Westminster

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244 – July, 2021

By Sarah Montague

Christopher Guest’s mockumentary Best In Show came out in 2000, so it was one of the pegs for the first feature I did for WNYC, the public radio station for which I am now the annual show commentator. There was even a direct connection—I met the breeder who had supplied Guest with the Bloodhound that his character showed in the film. He interviewed her in character (here’s how they are described in a Google summary: “Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest) and his Bloodhound Hubert: The Southern owner of a fishing goods store and an aspiring ventriloquist, he is an affable man who prides himself on being able to name every type of nut”) and she had no idea until the premiere that he wasn’t that aimable guy from the South.

When I set off in pursuit of my story, I was generously welcomed—as a complete neophyte—by people like Tom Bradley, and Janet York, and Karen LeFrak, and Sue Jeffries, and Lisa Croft-Elliot. And the late Iris Love—who left a hilarious message on my phone machine about her many themed dachshund parties at Tavern on the Green.

It was only six months after the World Trade Center attacks, and the show honored search and rescue dogs at the Garden. The Best In Show winner that year was the Bichon Frise JR, Ch. Special Times’ Just Right handled by Scott Sommer. My feature aired the first day of the show, and I got to go back to being a tourist, excited to be sitting with the press at a show I had watched avidly on television for years. It was a lark—I didn’t know then that I was a lifer.

But the next year I was back. That year the winner was the miniature poodle Ch. Surrey Spice Girl, handled by Kaz Hosaka, making me aware of what an international community the show world was.

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244 – July, 2021


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