In Westminster, what is it like to be very good?  Ask the dogs.

NEW YORK — Humans from the Westminster Kennel Club dog show often have the same things to say about their very different dogs. From the Alaskan malamute to the Yorkie, they will talk about how excited and happy they are to have a superior dog; how playful and affectionate the dog is outside the ring; how seriously the dog takes the competition; and of course how good they are.

All of these things are true, of course, but they don’t tell the whole story of what it’s like to be a contender for the most prestigious canine award. For that, we had to ask the dogs. This is what they told us.

Bee, Shetland Sheepdog (teachers agility competition, 16-inch division)

I’m ready. READY. It’s time to jump! I’m jumping right now. It’s not time to jump yet, but I NEED to jump. isittimetogoyet. Human says wait. The human says go away.

About the sticks. Skip the next stick. The human is yelling: “Bee! Tunnel tunnel tunnel tunnel!” I’m running through the tunnel. Jumping! Bark!

On Friday we got in the car and drove all day to get here. We did it last year too, and I jumped and then there was treats and a big ribbon and so many humans around my human, and so many pets for me, a good girl. We are in New York. The smells are different than in Ohio. There is not so much grass.

But everyone is so nice! Do you know me!? Remember big jump big tape. I’m doing it again, for the snacks but really for the attention. Well! Exit from the tunnel and time of poles. Inside outside inside outside between the poles, barking! More jumps, more tunnels, and then I’m going up and down the inclined ramp, and through the tire, and there’s a human, and all of a sudden I’m in his arms and everyone’s cheering, like last time. And then running around in circles and barking, and then a human picks me up, and here comes the big man with the big ribbon, again.

“Thank you very much,” the human says to the man. “You were so good,” he tells me. The camera zooms in on me. Another human asks what it is about me that makes me such a successful competitor.

“She brings her A game,” says the human.

Trumpet, Bloodhound (2022 Best of Show)

How does it feel to be back here as the reigning champion? Humans sure make a fuss about it. Probably because I was the first bloodhound. Last year, I was on TV and I met celebrities. I took a tour of the Purina dog food factory. People see me here and lose their minds. Has been –

“Oh, sorry, I smelled some chips in there. What were you asking?

Good. This year. Anyway, I guess I’ve gotten a little tired. It’s fun to get all this attention, but that’s not what it’s about for me. I like when children come to caress me, because they are not dazzled. They just want to touch my wrinkles.

Oh sorry, they’re calling me there now, I have to do a photo shoot with someone called Mrs. Met on the purple carpet in Westminster.

Um, wow. It looks like one of my chew toys. See what I mean? this year has been strange. Look, I can smell a human below, I know it’s not there. in fact a chew toy, but still weird.

Okay, all the photographers are calling me: “Trumpet, hey bud! Good boy. “I have to give them what they want. One of the people in this media scrum has Goldfish crackers in her pocket.

Sunny, Coton de Tulear (best breed winner)

Here’s the thing none of the other dogs talk about. Once she’s done with her beauty routine, he can’t really go to the bathroom. And, excuse me, maybe it’s TMI, I know we just met, but I haven’t done my business yet this morning.

We drove from Florida, Harry and I. We got to the tent super early. There’s some kind of portable dog potty behind the grooming shop – it’s these stalls with wood chips on the floor. But when you travel, your schedule is altered. And once I get to the competition, I really get in the zone.

So we went over my entire grooming routine. They completely brush me off. Coton means cotton in French, if you didn’t know, that’s the look we’re going for. There is hairspray. And I’m ready to get in that ring and win again, like last year. There are not so many dogs against me. That is the benefit of being a rare breed that is relatively new to Westminster. The drawback is that it is difficult to advance to the best of the group.

Everything turns out exactly as Harry and I envisioned. I go in there and crush him in the ring. The best cotton in the country. However, I’m probably going to lose unsportingly to Winston the bulldog later tonight. Again.

But now that I’ve won again, I can… loosen up … a bit. [Eyes widen] Sorry, I must go!

Dot, Cavalier King Charles spaniel (teacher agility competition, 8-inch division)

All I know is that I was having fun out there. Some people say I had too much fun. If you weren’t paying close attention, this is what it would look like: I got off to a good start. I made it past the obstacles, weaving and weaving around the poles, across the elevated walkway, over the next two obstacles, and then a third. And with that third hurdle, I could hear all the people go, “Oooh.” And not in a good way. I was supposed to make that jump after Turns out I scaled the A frame.

What the crowd didn’t notice was that Antonia, my handler, twisted her knee a bit. She looks back at the video of her: she sees her reaching for him ever so slightly once she clears the second hurdle. I trust her to guide me – Antonia is the one previewing the course, not me! -and she distracted me a bit.

And look, once the crowd reacts like this, the vibes go away. So I got out of that third hurdle and ran in a little circle, because what else was I supposed to do? You might as well have some fun. This, apparently, was not correct either. So Antonia sends me up and down the A-frame, through the tunnel, over the seesaw, and then through the tire to the finish line. But it was too late.

So we don’t place. You can’t win them all. Alright. I still think that Antonia is a very good girl.

Nikita, Russian Toy (in the grooming shop before the best breed competition)

The bathroom, oh my god, not the bathroom. I think I’m going to be sick. [Shakes off water; trembles]

I have to get wet first. How do people say that someone is drenched by many kilos? Well, I weigh four pounds, five drenched. I love it once I’m in the ring the crowds go crazy for me they love earmuffs but this process? I could do without.

There are so many steps. Now it’s time to get out the hair dryer. It’s noisy. The brushing! It’s endless. I wish I could go roll in the mud instead.

It’s okay, Nikita. Get it. You were already a great champion once. Bitch you can do this! (I can say that, it’s a dog show, that’s what we call ourselves).

Oh no. Oh no. Now it’s time to trim my legs. The owner calls them “Grinch feet” because I have little clumps of hair between my toes, and that would be a good joke if it weren’t for the scissors. They’re going to have to give me that much chicken to make up for this. And not just any chicken. The good chicken, with garlic powder, my favourite.

Just think about the ring, Nikita. Think about the people who will cheer you up. Think of the… scissors. Oh no. I think I’m going to be sick.

Nikita was withdrawn from the competition because she got too nervous to continue and vomited. “We don’t want to talk about it,” said Kelsey Jesseph, her manager. She spent the rest of the day huddled in her cage with a stuffed snail, while Jesseph showed off other dogs.

Kenzo, Akita (Best of Breed Winner)

I am from Italy. Of course, you probably figured that out from my slight accent. But I live in Maine.

We do this every weekend, and I love it. The cleaning is every day. Conditioner on my coat, nail clippings. A bath once a week. Thickening spray for my pre-competition and blow-drying coat. Lots of styling and trimming.

I like to watch the other dogs as it happens. There’s a cocker spaniel right there, with bandaged ears. There’s a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in front of me, and maybe 45 terriers behind me. We are all here together.

But once we’re in the ring, even if there are a lot of us, it’s just me, the handler and the judge. Nancy, my handler, makes sure my feet are in the correct position. She keeps hot dog bits in her pocket and feeds them to me while the judge runs his hands over my body: my head and neck, front legs, lower chest, shoulders and spine, hind legs and tail. . Nancy pulls back my lips and shows her my teeth. I get another little piece of hot dog. And then we run in a big circle and people cheer. Sometimes, like today, we wait a few hours and run in an even bigger circle, and even more people clap.

Zsaru, komondor (the best competitor of his race)

YES, I’M VERY EXCITED ABOUT COMPETING. That’s why the controller makes me pace back and forth. I’m SO EXCITED that I’m actually JUMPING, which is a PROBLEM, because the judges want us to walk normally and that’s NOT EASY IN MY CURRENT STATE. I’m almost 3 years old, but I have GREAT puppy energy.

Dreds have taken years to make. Thanks to them I can’t get dirty either. So the hairdressers are here to make me look good and I LOVE them and I’m going to try to KISS THEIR FACES. But now they’re going to put chalk powder in my hair to make it look brighter and I have to STAY CALM, ZSARU.

Out in the ring! FUN. The judge touches my hair. The judge asks me to RUN so I RUN but actually I SKIP a bit because I’M HAVING A GREAT TIME and I CAN’T HELP MYSELF and there are also pieces of PORK CHOPS to eat and even though it means I come in second place I’m STILL VERY PLEASED .

Winston, French Bulldog (Best of Breed, Best of Group, Non-Sporting)

Honey, everyone talks about protesting these days. That’s what I was doing when I came out in that ring for the non-sports group. He was posting a repeat win for best in breed, and again for best in group.

Also, Perry, my handler, brought pork chops. That helps.

It was a bit cheeky of me, I realize. Once the judge of the best group chose me, the Dalmatian, the poodle and a few others as the best dogs, I gently put a paw on the purple winners platform when we were supposed to go for our last walk. But that’s how the demo works! Visualize your wishes.

And then, yeah, I admit, maybe my next part was a bit over the top. probably should No I jumped onto the box displaying our group’s name, making the crowd gasp and forcing Perry to reach there and pull me out. But what’s a night in Westminster without a bit of drama? The other dogs might not have done that. But they’re not contenders for best show either.

About this story: These insights into the Westminster Kennel Club dog show dogs are based on seeing them perform in competition and on interviews with owners or handlers about the dogs’ experience, temperament and personalities.