More buck than bite

More buck than bite
SO FUR SO GOOD: Competitors in this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where a beagle named Miss P won ‘best in show’.

You have to pay top dollar to be top dog.

In the world of dog shows, especially in premiere events like Westminster Kennel Club's 139th annual dog show last week, the cost of winning can come up to US$700,000 (S$950,000).

To start with, you would need to travel to at least 150 shows a year and take out ads in Dog News and The Canine Chronicle, the The New York Times reported in 2010.

These ads, which some dog owners said they paid US$100,000 a year for, extol your dog's victories and its looks. The hope is, it will sway future judges, reported Time magazine.

Add to that professional handlers, travel expenses and other expenditure like grooming and pet food, and the figure balloons to as much as US$300,000 a year in some cases.


But most dogs don't win in the first year, since it takes time to build a dog's reputation.

One owner told the Times in 2006 that the three-year run up to victory cost him US$700,000.

When it comes to accommodation, the dogs enjoy red-carpet treatment.

This year's two-day event in Manhattan, New York City - the 139th, by the way - saw more than 1,000 dogs lodging in hotels around Madison Square Garden, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Ms Charlene Cassidy and her dog Varius were enjoying the amenities at Affinia's Manhattan NYC hotel.

Varius was staying in a suite with two bathrooms so he would have his own tub.

But since he couldn't use the toilet, he and Ms Cassidy would go to the 12th-floor lounge where he could relieve himself on the adjoining terrace, the online version of the newspaper reported.

"He adapts very well to hotels," said Ms Cassidy.

The Manhattan NYC, which was hosting 297 dogs this year, turned Room 1231 into a VIPaws Suite, featuring a big-screen TV playing dog shows, padded armchairs and treats.

But doggone it, the good life does not end there, the Washington Post reported.

The post-show lives of these dogs is enough to make anyone mad with jealousy.

The newspaper described it this way: "One contestant pretty much expects life to include a steady stream of London broil (broiled or grilled marinated flank steak)."

Another gets exhilarated about stopping off on the way home for cheeseburgers.

Another gets to dive into a 8.5m-wide pool every single day from May to October.

Another joins his handler routinely to go to the chiropractor, the newspaper reported.

"They live this rigorous life going to shows all the time," said its handler and art owner Hayden Hadley. "So they get as tight as anybody else."

This article was first published on Feb 27, 2015.
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