February 18, 2015


A bit off topic here, I know - - but as many of you are dog lovers, I thought that I might share our week in New York City attending the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Meet the Breeds event held this weekend.  Not only was our male Irish Terrier invited to compete this year, we were also selected to design and man the Irish Terrier Meet the Breeds breed booth ( and, since it was also a competition, I had to pull out all the stops to see if we might win!).

It was also New York Toy Fair, so I was busy in many ways with meetings, that trade show at the Javits,  and a few events to attend but since I took the week off as vacation, I spent much of it at the Kennel club events. 

Doodles ( our Daphne) was one of the breed ambassadors at our breed booth, which made her feel better as her brother was in the Westminster show all week. The AKC Meet the Breeds Experience, held at the Piers in NYC featured most of the dog breeds clubs entered at Westminster, plus, it too was a competition -  for Best in Show with breed booth design.  (Oh, OK, I'll spoil the surprise, we won Best Booth Design in the terrier group) Yay!

 The AKC 'Meet the Breeds' it is such a good idea, as attendees can come and see all of the dog breeds in person. It was a very cold weekend in the city, but nearly 20 thousand attended the event, which is incredible given that it was snowing all day. This event is held on the Saturday before the Westminster Event at Madison Square Garden.  I was asked by our breed club to create and design a booth which might win - and we were all so excited to find out that we did indeed win Best of Group  in the terrier group, which had a lot of competition. People even wanted to buy our fake potato bags after the show.

Click below for more!

Setting up was not easy, as the event was held on one of those long piers near the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. The weather was so cold that it was breaking all records with temps near -10º F. So cold that Daphne snugged in our faux potato bags we creates as we hauled our props out to the display area on the Piers.

I designed some quick stencils that might looks as if they came from old, Irish farms, and my friend Jess used her laser machines to cut the stencils which Joe spray painted onto some burlap bags that he sewed together last week. I had a few rules for the booth design, most of which stated that there could not be any clovers, green plaid or gaelic type, as I felt that these would be more cliche, and perhaps be the go-to motif's for the other breed groups with dogs of Irish heritage. My vision paid off - Whiskey Bar meets Brooklyn Hip. 

The entire background of the booth consisted of a large banner which I designed as if Ralph Lauren was featuring the Irish Terrier in his flagship store windows on Lexington Avenue. I was inspired by a true story about Mr. Selfridge (of PBS fame), founder of Selfridges in London, who was so in love with the Irish Terrier that he held an exhibition in his store at the turn of the century.

A detail of one of the bags ( we stuffed them with old clothes)

Our final award-winning booth which was featured everywhere in the media on Sunday after we won the blue ribbon for the best in the terrier groups.

I even designed a new brochure for the Irish Terrier Club of America to use. The banner was huge, at 20 feet long, it was one of the largest banners there, and it looked like an ad for a feature film! I couldn't help myself, but it all paid off in the end.

Everything in New York City is Purple and Gold, celebrating the Westminster Kennel Clubs' colors, and this epic show.

This year, we were invited to attend the Westminster Kennel Club because our male Irish Terrier Weasley won Best of Breed at our National Specialty, and is currently the number 2 Irish Terrier in the US. Unfortunately, he did not win at this show, coming in second again and Best of Opposite Sex, but we still enjoyed the big event at Madison Square Garden, which was very exciting. Joined by our good friend Abbie Zabar, we sat, sipped beer and watched the spectacle without the added stress of thinking that we might have to be on Good Morning America in the morning! ( OK, it would have been fun, but really, I had nothing to wear!). Back to gardening later this week as we come home.

Madison Square Garden was packed, kind of amazing for just a dog show, but this is hardly just a dog show!

Here is our boy, Weasley ( Grand Champion Red Devils Irish Lucifer's Fire) getting the one over by the judge. We can't complain about coming in second place in out breed, after all, this is Westminster. But oh, soooooo close!

Later that night, we watched the winner of the Irish Terrier breed compete in the Terrier group. So, here is a little thing to share with you, as you don't hear this on TV - the entire audience is very engaged with the jumbotron - I've never seen anything like it ( this is anything but a hockey game!). Everyone  goes 'Awwwww' when ever they show a close-up of a cute dog, or a crowd favorite.

It was a little more than amazing to see all of these people here just to watch a dog show. I still can't understand how one judge can honestly judge so many breeds against each other - who could know all of those breed standards, so in many ways, these events are a bit like large flower shows - - not always clear how a rose can compete with a dahlia and a tiny pot of narcissus - those crazy Victorians, right? Still, it's fun, and if one approaches such things with a level mind, these events can be very enjoyable. We just need to keep it all in perspective. After all, these are dogs, not orchids. LOL.

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