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

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

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

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

by Josh Dean


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Journalist Josh Dean tells the story of a loveable Australian Shepherd, Jack, on his novice tour through the exciting world of professional dog showing, following Jack from his first competitions in local school gymnasiums all the way to the great granddaddy of them all, the Westminster Dog Show. A veteran journalist, Dean shines a warm, steady light on the trials that Jack and his plucky, dedicated owners come to face, and uses their story to explore the larger histories of dog shows themselves; the fascinating and sometimes bizarre history of purebred dogs; and our complex, heartfelt relationships to the pets we grow to love. For dog lovers, readers of Marley & Me, Merle’s Door, and Oogy, and fans of Best in Show, Dean’s Show Dog is an irresistible instant classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062020499
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/05/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.16(w) x 8.82(h) x 1.18(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Wildwood 1

2 Hello, Jack, Meet the World 25

3 Jack's Mom, Human Variety 33

4 The Road to a Championship Starts with a Single Point 44

5 White Plains: Meeting the Menagerie 53

6 Heather and Jack 64

7 Fantastically Rich People Do the Darnedest Things: A Brief History of Dog Shows 72

8 Westminster: Welcome to the Big Time, Kid 79

9 How the Hell Does a Wolf Become a Pekingese? A Brief History of Purebreds 95

10 York 114

11 Pardon Me While I Fondle Your Dog's Testicles: Show-Dog Judging Explained 122

12 Edison 132

13 And Now a Brief Interlude Featuring the Perez Hilton of Dog Shows 145

14 The Campaign: I'll Take Thirty-four Consecutive Back Covers of Dog News, Please 153

15 Meet Ron Scott, Show-Dog Investor 160

16 Harrisonburg 169

17 Like Walking Energy on a Leash 174

18 Welcome, Halle B 182

19 Stayin' Alive (Often with Great Effort): Breeding Ain't Always Pretty 192

20 Delaware and Beyond: The Slump Begins 205

21 Oyster Bay 212

22 Freehold 221

23 Ludwigs Corner 225

24 Do Dogs Actually Like Dog Shows? 230

25 New Paltz 241

26 Jack and Summer 246

27 Bel Alton 249

28 Bloomsburg 257

29 August: All Is Not Lost (Yet) 262

30 Hey, Puppies! 274

31 Deep into the Heart of Texas 278

32 Bloomsburg (Again) 290

33 Philadelphia 305

34 A Quick Lesson in Poor Sportsmanship: The Battle for (and Insanity over) Number One 314

35 Go West, Young Jack 322

36 Wildwood: Once More, with Feeling 336

37 Last Stop, Westminster 350

38 The End. For Now. Maybe? 364

Afterword 371

Acknowledgments 385

Appendix: Finally, a Thoroughly Random Collection of Purebred-Dog Marginalia 389

What People are Saying About This

Michael Solomon


Colin McEnroe


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.”

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.”

Virginia Prescott

“Eccentric and really fascinating, sometimes treacherous, behind-the-grooming-stand look at the show circuit.”

John Hodgman

“Fascinating and 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.”

Craig Wilson

“The literary answer to that laugh-out-loud movie Best in Show.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

Benoit Denizet-Lewis


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