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


$15.97 $15.99 Save 0% Current price is $15.97, Original price is $15.99. You Save 0%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, July 25


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
Sales rank: 1,265,030
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

Colin McEnroe


Michael Solomon


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.”

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.”

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.”

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


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Show Dog 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Mesinead More than 1 year ago
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.
gritsgal More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even with 30 years in dogs behind me I learned something more from this new angle that I didn't know before.
RUFUSNY More than 1 year ago
slypork More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to read this book it looks cute
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an informative, funny, interesting and highly readable book. It immersed me in the dog show world without becoming overwhelming. I definitely have much more appreciation for all that entails a dog show. The dog highlighted, an Australian Shepherd "Jack" was very engaging and I found myself eagerly turning the pages to find out what would happen both in his home environment and his show life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am truly enjoying this fascinating and well-written book. But I have one bitch (no pun...). There are many fascinating footnotes indicated with a "*". Great! But getting back takes a delicate touch that can take several frustrating tries. A "back" button appears briefly, but unless one is a super speed reader, it disappears well before the footnote can be read. Trial and error revealed that by touching the asterick lightly and exactly it will take you back. But--and it's a big butt, complete with a tail--the star is very tiny and right next to the left side. So three out of four times I've been sent to the previous footnote! I'm on about page 100 out of over 400 (you get your money's worth with this delightful read) and, as I have tiny fingers, I am training the tip of my little pinky to perform a light tap exactly on the *, but still I often miss. Please publishers, correct this! It is really frustrating. A tip for the reader. If you can stand it, widen the margins so the * is not so close to the edge. I also shrunk the typeface, but that's a matter of taste and eyesight. But don't ignore the footnotes. They are worth the trouble! So, five, uh, "Wags" from me! JMcC
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think in dog shows people should NOT work the poor dogs to hard and harshly