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.
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.
“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.”
“Fascinating and often very funny.”
"Fascinating and often very funny."
“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].”
“A wonderful, charming look at the sport of dogs and dog shows and an absolute must read for anyone looking to get involved.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Eccentric and really fascinating, sometimes treacherous, behind-the-grooming-stand look at the show circuit.”
“The literary answer to that laugh-out-loud movie Best in Show.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”