Ordinarily, I would not want to spend time in a room with hundreds of dogs and their people. They are loud. They are not usually well-behaved. They run up to you just to annoy you. And those are just the dog owners! The dogs are not quite as bad, but who would want 100-plus dogs shedding all over you? It might be that the answer is you, but it definitely is not “me, Dan McQuade.”
Last weekend, though, I entered a world where the dogs never shed. They are all well-behaved. Even the owners were pretty friendly. I went to the dog show that the Philadelphia Kennel Club has held on the weekend before Thanksgiving, with only a few exceptions, since 1879. After seeing Best In Show, NBC Sports exec Jon Miller decided a dog show would make better post-parade programming than It’s A Wonderful Life, and NBC branded it the National Dog Show. They put a bunch of dogs on TV and made it like George Bailey never existed.
Hopefully Miller got his wings for his work here, because the dog show is great. It’s fun to watch on TV, but going in person seemed like a different story to me. The show has been held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, which is located in A Township Located Nowhere Near Philadelphia, for a while now. I can now attest that the drive is worth it. The dogs are that good.
What’s cool about the Philadelphia Kennel Club show is that it’s a bench show (so is Westminster, the winter show held in New York City). That means attendees are allowed to walk around what would normally be the backstage benching area, and by rule the dogs and their handlers have to stay there all day. Attendees—fans?—can talk to the people and party with the dogs, who I guess are technically competitors but more obviously and to the point, dogs. And they're good dogs at that. It’s a big dog show, so all the dogs you will see are approximately the best versions of breeds you’ll ever see.
I don’t even go to the actual show. I cannot spoil who won the TV dog show that will air on Thanksgiving because I authentically have no clue. The benching area is where the real fun takes place. I walked around and saw a bunch of dogs. That was my day. It was incredible. Do you want to see some of the dogs I saw? Sure you do! Here’s a bunch!