The Barnes & Noble Review
Following on the heels of the wildly successful satire film Best in Show comes what is sure to be an equally successful book, Going for the Blue, a behind-the-scenes peek at the unique and fascinating world of dog shows. Written by well-known dog expert Roger A. Caras, president emeritus of the ASPCA, this delightful volume is part how-to guide and part exposé, one that is just as easy to read as it is to watch those curious and captivating dog shows on TV.
Indeed, anyone who has been an armchair dog judge has probably wondered about the showing process. How do you get involved? What are the requirements for the dog? How important is it that the dog be a purebred? What should the dog look like, and how do you prepare it for the show? Caras answers these questions and many more with attention, candor, and good humor.
First of all, showing a dog can be an expensive hobby; some overly devoted owners spend in the six figures for just a year of campaigning, and while that is certainly above the normal expense range, your financial commitment to showing should be thoroughly assessed before sending your dog for its first grooming. Also worthy of consideration is that, according to Caras, the dog has to "really want to show and love to win if [it is] ever going to do very much of either." Showing even a seemingly perfect dog could be a waste of time and money if the pooch isn't so inclined. But assuming that these factors fall into place, Going for the Blue is an invaluable resource for would-be participants. Caras covers such important topics as the appearance specifications for certain breeds, how to deal with "faults," how to navigate the politics of shows, and how to avoid certain faux pas.
On a more general level, Going for the Blue also includes a surprisingly interesting history of how dogs became domesticated pets and how the practice of dog shows arose. So, between history lessons, amusing anecdotes about real dogs at real shows, and insiders' tips on how to produce a champion, this is a book that will both entertain the casually curious and provide information and advice for those who are seriously considering entering Fido or Fluffy in their local dog show.
Aside from someone who has bred, raised, and shown dogs for decades, who other than Caras--"The Voice of Westminster," the hugely successful kennel club dog show held at Madison Square Garden each February--could provide such an insightful look into the world of dog shows. With his typical charm, wit, and humor, Caras takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour, starting with early show history, the politics of the show ring, the mechanics of showing, and picking and choosing both a breed and that all-important puppy. Newcomers to dog shows are often surprised and finally disillusioned by the dedication required to succeed. The competition itself is often a source of frustration, and when the whole family gets involved, the stakes are even higher. This book should be read by anyone who just "might" like to have a "show dog." It does not give all the answers, and the depth of its practical information is not great, but those who still want to get involved after reading it will find that numerous other books provide advice on grooming, handling, breeding, and raising dogs. In the meantime, a book by Caras is always a welcome addition to any dog-lover's bookshelf.--Edell M. Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.