The Westminster Kennel Club has awarded Best in Show since 1877, making it America’s longest continuously held sporting event, with the exception of the Kentucky Derby. And we always look forward to the big show, which begins Monday at Madison Square Garden. Everybody has their cherished memories—who can forget when announcer Joe Garagiola cheerfully remarked about a female dog trotting by, “look at that sprightly little bitch”? That’s a moment that just doesn’t comes along very often.
There are always controversies and curiosities and intriguing new breeds (this year we welcome the Rat Terrier). There are favorite dogs denied glory (Cinders, the dignified wire-haired Dachshund, was runner-up a few years back to a possibly alien Pomeranian). There are also, of course, unworthy victors (the infamous Banana Jack, from last year, may be the most upsetting winner in the history of organized sport). Then there are beloved legends, (Josh, the Newfoundland, Stump, the Sussex Spaniel, Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound) . These dogs are remembered longer than most NBC sitcoms.