This weekend in New York City at the Javits Center, the American Kennel Club (AKC) in partnership with The International Cat Association (TICA) hosted the fourth annual Meet the Breeds event. And boy oh boy, were the breeds met. And then some.
To set the scene, imagine a loud, cavernous convention center overflowing with grabby, wild-eyed children, grown men clad in puffy kitty sweaters, super-aggressive amateur photographers wearing Vibram Five Fingers, and little old ladies not-so-patiently queued up for their chance to receive a sloppy smooch at one of several “kissing booths.”
On the day that MNN attended the event, we also encountered a glassy-eyed gentleman who smelled like he had just rolled around in the Dumpster behind a fast food restaurant. We believe that his stench was intentional as he was receiving some really special attention from some of the show’s scent-driven participants. Apparently, dressing in a suit layered with strips of bacon wasn’t subtle enough for this creepy fellow. Also spotted: Queen Elizabeth II (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi booth), Dorothy Gale (the Munchkin longhair booth) Little Bo Peep (the Selkirk Rex longhair booth) and a whole gaggle of Shih Tzu chaperones wearing silk Chinese robes.
So, yes, to say that the people watching at Meet the Breeds was exceptional would be the understatement of the year. But let’s not forget the pets — 160 breeds of dog and 50 breeds of cat were in attendance — that drew tens of thousands of camera-wielding fanciers to the self-described “largest showcase of cats and dogs in the world” in the first place.
To list our favorite breeds on display — and yes, the public was invited to stroke, cuddle, hold and play with the animals provided that they weren’t passed out from exhaustion (the pets, not the attendees) — would be unfair. Because we were truly pleased to meet all of them, particularly a fluff ball of a Havanese that let us rub her belly, and an exceedingly charming 4-year-old Vizsla named Jasper. Also, the bed filled with napping Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Crowd favorites appeared to be the Neapolitan mastiff (a massive pooch with a dewlap that only a mother could love), the Bedlington terrier (a lovely canine with the appearance and disposition of a lamb), the Shiba Inu (a cute-as-a-button import from Japan), the Sphynx (a hairless kitty that’s hot to the touch) and the Toyger (an in-development breed of cat whose coloring and stripes resemble that of a tiger). The booth belonging to the AKC’s most registered breed, the Labrador retriever, also drew quite a crowd as did the faux pumpkin patch filled with frolicking American Staffordshire terrier puppies.
In addition to the booths themselves — most, but not all, were elaborately decorated, with the most over-the-top award going to the Saluki booth — where attendees could both interact with very well-behaved animals and learn more about the specifics of each breed from on-hand experts, there were also more than 100 vendors on hand hawking everything from freeze-dried cat dinners to denim jackets embossed with images of cocker spaniels. And of course, there were the two designated demonstration areas at Meet the Breeds: the Feline Stage and the Purina Pro Plan Performance Ring. Attractions at the former included a Meow Wear Kitty Cat-ture fashion show (yes, a cat fashion show), while in the main, canines-only ring there were special appearances from Beefy the Skateboarding Bulldog and Sundae the Dancing Sheltie along with demos from dogs trained to leap over fences, sniff out explosives in suitcases, and aid those with disabilities.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon spent at this year’s Meet the Breeds. While we weren’t busy petting pooches, applying hand sanitizer or giving pushy children dirty looks, we also managed to snap some photos. Here are a few of our favorites.
This nattily dressed puss is a tad distracted
by a glitter wand.
At Meet the Breeds, one can get away with
wearing something like this in public.
Behold, the mighty Toyger.
Mr. Sphynx is about ready to call it a day.
An officer and a gentledog.
This bearded collie is quite the handsome
Out to lunch …
Popcorn break for a beautiful Briard.
And this happened …
Puppy in a pumpkin patch!
Will and Kate made a surprise appearance …
... as did the queen.
It just rolls right off the tongue, right?
A dashing relative of Bo Obama.
Mr. Newfoundland is ready for action.
You lookin’ at me?
It’s been a loooong day.
Tell me about it!
Don’t forget we have to come back tomorrow.
Photos: Matt Hickman
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