Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

( 16 )

Overview

Every weekend, tens of thousands of Americans pack up their SUVs and minivans with crates, dryers, treats, shampoos, and hairsprays and fan out for some of the two-thousand-plus dog shows held annually across the United States. More than two million pedigreed dogs, and exponentially more humans who care for them, will take part, and the world that has grown up to support them is massive and vibrant, and almost impossible to imagine unless you've seen it in person.

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Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

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Overview

Every weekend, tens of thousands of Americans pack up their SUVs and minivans with crates, dryers, treats, shampoos, and hairsprays and fan out for some of the two-thousand-plus dog shows held annually across the United States. More than two million pedigreed dogs, and exponentially more humans who care for them, will take part, and the world that has grown up to support them is massive and vibrant, and almost impossible to imagine unless you've seen it in person.

By spending a year alongside rising star Jack—a champion Australian shepherd—and his friends, Josh Dean yanks back the curtain on the dog show world. Along the way, Dean takes a close look at the eccentric and fascinating world of breeders and dog show fanciers, exploring the history and science of purebred dog breeding and the evolution of canine perfection via dog show culture. He provides not just a hilarious and often touching portrait of a colorful subculture only slightly exaggerated in the film Best in Show but also a revealing look at our love affair with the world's most doted-upon and tinkered-with animal species, examining the colossal array of dog types and the humans who love them.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Dog show enthusiasts are a breed of their own and don't look now, but they are everywhere: There are more than 11,000 American Kennel Club sanctioned shows and the dog walk industry brings in a third of a billion dollars each year. Journalist Josh Dean offers us a backstage pass to this exotic world in this new book, which focuses on a cute, intensely pampered canine champion. Jack, the exquisitely preened Australian Shepard who stars in a year of purebred competitions, beginning with small town preps and escalating rapidly towards the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. Whether your pet of preference is a self-willed mutt or a future blue ribbon winner, Show Dog will touch your heart and rouse your curiosity.

Lisa Echenthal

Wendy Toth
“With Dean, curiosity reigns, making it possible to enter this subculture without the fanaticism of a disciple or the condescension of a cynic. He delivers an earnest, wry, and humorous look into what possesses people to spend nearly all their free time and money [showing dogs].”
Entertainment Weekly
“If you don’t know your toy group from your terriers, pick up this beguiling nonfiction account that follows Jack, a lovable, handsome Australian shepherd and an aspiring Best in Show.”
Star magazine
“Fascinating and often very funny.”
Star Magazine
"Fascinating and often very funny."
Pat Hastings
“A wonderful, charming look at the sport of dogs and dog shows and an absolute must read for anyone looking to get involved.”
Mark Adams
“A hilarious chronicle of blow-dried poodles, diva trainers and egregious canine puns. Above all, though, this is an irresistible story about the wondrous bond between humans and animals.”
Jim Gorant
“Filled with heart and humor, bringing to life extravagant characters, pampered pooches, and over-the-top humans without falling prey to tired stereotypes. That’s because it’s not really about animal beauty pageants; it’s about the unyielding bond between people and dogs and what they’ll do to make each other happy.”
John Hodgman
“Fascinating and funny...as I was sucked into the story of Jack the show dog, I began to understand the subtleties of the sport, the amazing talents of these animals, and the affecting human-and canine-drama behind the show.”
David Frei
“A well-written, entertaining and accurate look at our great sport of dog shows . . . Dean makes you feel like you are right there with a brush or a show lead in your handa . . . a great accessory for anyone who wants to know more.”
Colin McEnroe
“Terrific”
Michael Solomon
“Superb”
Benoit Denizet-Lewis
“Excellent”
Ranny Green
“Show Dog is the real thing with focus, frustration, commitment, passion, ambition and a bit of celebration at times. In the process, it is remarkably informative while delivering vivid, priceless, behind-the-scenes snapshots and a few bizarre characters from small-town America to Manhattan.”
Virginia Prescott
“Eccentric and really fascinating, sometimes treacherous, behind-the-grooming-stand look at the show circuit.”
Craig Wilson
“The literary answer to that laugh-out-loud movie Best in Show.”
David Baker
“A spellbinding diary written by an outsider looking in, and it’s filled with intriguing observations and lessons learned. It’s also quite poignant at times. Think of the movie Best in Show and then dial it back just a hair.”
Tracie Hotchner
“Amazing, absolutely amazing. No matter how much you think you know about dog shows, this is the real deal. It’s not just the whole history, so beautifully interwoven - [Dean has] really delved in and shown this world from every possible angle, and remarkably uncritically.”
Mary Carillo
“Show Dog added greatly to my already over-the-top love for the subject.Josh has written an absorbing, intimate and good-natured journey into the making of a champion. If you’re like me, you’ll come for the dogs, but you’ll stay for the people.”
Billy Wheeler
“A tale that represents the world of show dogs fairly and factually in a fashion that people outside our cloistered community will understand and appreciate. It may even persuade a few to join us.”
Kirkus Reviews
A lighthearted account of a year in the life of a show dog. Dog shows may appear inscrutable to the outsider due to the amount of time and money devoted to promoting and showing animals that, to an untrained eye, appear equally attractive. Former Men's Journal editor Dean's major achievement is his effective demystification of this world. The author demonstrates to readers how easily one can become invested, emotionally and financially, in the success of a show dog. The author focuses on Jack, an Australian shepherd who enjoyed early success in the ring. However, when readers meet him, he is struggling to fulfill his potential. Dean also profiles Jack's entourage--including his fretful but proud owner, Kimberly, his tough but effective handler, Heather, and many other strong personalities who inhabit the dog-show community--and ably explains the motivation behind dog shows: the recognition of dogs who are nearly flawless representations of the exacting standards of their breed. This recognition helps keep these breeds alive, but, writes the author, it also leads to cheating and overbreeding. Unfortunately, the author doesn't seriously examine these problems, and he only mentions--but never develops--his provocative theory that dog-show judges are so influenced by the decisions made by other judges that once a dog gets on a winning streak, few judges want to be the one to break it. Light on investigative journalism, this book will be an amiable companion for those looking for a sympathetic and educational look at the dog-show community.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062020499
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 388,576
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Josh Dean is a former deputy editor of Men's Journal and was one of the founding editors of PLAY, the New York Times sports magazine. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Outside, GQ, Popular Science, and many others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2012

    Great read! And oh, so true!

    Anyone who has ever wondered about the world of dog shows and the people and their dogs that inhabit them will find this book instructive as well as entertaining; those experienced in dog shows will find it a hoot! A good read. Check it out.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended and Totally Enjoyable Read

    A friend of mine, knowing my wife shows Chinese Crested dogs and that I own an Aussie, suggested I pick up this book. I found it totally engaging, funny, and an accurate portrayal of the Show world. We are relatively new to showing, my wife got into it 5 years ago under circumstances weirdly similar to Kim Smith, and she has been hooked ever since. My wife shows and I watch and provide moral support. I found Josh's book to be an extremely accurate and heartfelt portrayal of this world from the viewpoint of someone who has never bred or shown dogs.

    My wife was hesitant to read the book and actually asked me today, "is it judgmental?" I told her I found it to be the opposite, the people portrayed in the book are people who love dogs and love their sport. I would recommend this book to anyone who shows, is interested in what goes on with showing, or just loves dogs.

    BTW, I was floored to find out that the breeder of my Aussies' sire, Kerry Kirtley, was one of the main figures in the book. Small world.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2012

    Very Engaging

    Even with 30 years in dogs behind me I learned something more from this new angle that I didn't know before.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2012

    SPOT ON !!!!

    "A DAY IN THE LIFE"....VIVID,EVEN-HANDED PROFILES OF THE BREEDER, OWNER, HANDLERS WHO SPIRIT JACK, THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPARD IN HIS QUEST FOR TOP RANKING IN THE PURE BRED SHOW DOG WORLD. A JOY; FILLED WITH INFORMATION,HISTORY,HUMAN FOIBLES AND EXPLANATIONS OF DOG SHOW RULES AND NOMENCLATURE TO SATISFY BOTH SEASONED DOG SHOW PARTICIPANTS AND
    CASUAL OBSERVERS. IF YOU LIKE DOGS, I'LL BET YOU'LL LOVE THIS BOOK.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Recommended -- great picture of the life of successful show dogs

    This book follows an individual and a dog that has great show potential through the trials and successes of showing a dog to the top 10 of the breed. If you always wanted to know more about how a dog becomes a top show dog (other than because they are a great representative of the breed) -- and there is much to it, take a look at this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    Sarah

    I show Tollers but I havnt read this book...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Amy

    I think in dog shows people should NOT work the poor dogs to hard and harshly

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    Should i by this???

    I love aussies and this booklooks really good but i am 12and im not sure if i should get the book please someone reply i need to know!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Endearing story

    I boughtnthismbook because I have owned two Australian Shepherds and absolutely love the breed. So many of Jack's characteristics made me smile as they reminded of my own wonderful dogs. Fun, easy to read, informative and totally unique book! I evene picked up a few new training ideas!

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    Posted March 8, 2012

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    Posted February 29, 2012

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