OK-- I admit-- I'll be watching with interest Monday and Tuesday, and I've already looked at the list of "invited" Pembrokes and Cardigans.  How do the other participants get to join in?  Have they won important regional shows?  Do their kennels have  reputations for turning out lovely dogs?  When one is viewing on TV, what should I be looking out for?  I'd love to hear some tips from the breeders out there.  

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Hey, Gwynnie & Al heard that somebody crashed a White House reception... I can practically hear their mental wheels turning as they concoct a scheme:
Let's see. We inveigle our way inside with fake credentials, then right at the most formal, dignified moment when the legit participants are parading in the show ring, WHAM! Frap time! We totally disrupt the proceedings, knock over a table or two, steal a plateload of treats, and then race off to the getaway car!

Watch for us on the evening news:
TERRIERISTS STRIKE WESTMINSTER
Now I KNOW I want to watch!! Perhaps a deliberate "forgetting" of potty training too!
So are you driving the car? What did they have to promise you in return?
I think being part of the scheme is a reward in itself for Al!
Ooooh, it all sounds so highbrow and snooty. Gwynn & Al, the anarchists, are refining their sabotage scheme. It'll be like that scene in "Murder, She Purred" wherein the dogs run amok at the fancy party. They're gonna collect some fleas, come in matted and dirty with overgrown claws after rolling in something particularly noisome, and I'll clip tufts out of their fur so they look mangy. They want me to streak the main ring with them, but I'm not going that far. I'll sit outside the main gate, looking like a stray, with a sign that says, "Will Work for Dog Food".
Great idea, Kathryn. Al's gonna walk over to the main judge, lift his leg, but not pee... as if to say, "You're beneath my dignity...."
I wanna have a Bentley for the getaway car; that would be a nice touch.
I'M GOING!!! As spectators, but my sister and I are going!! I am very excited!!! WHO let the dogs OUT?!? We have tickets for Monday, I'm just hoping I'll see some Corgis!
Well, something's up. On the channel that's showing it (TNT?), when the little promo comes on the bottom corner of the screen, a little corgi comes trotting out. Then, I swear, the dog just FALLS OFF THE SCREEN! Where did it go? We couldn't find it under our TV. Did anyone else? John?
I giggle everytime I see that promo (on USA here). I figure they wanted the biggest dog that they wouldn't have to scrunch to fit the space. :D
You get invited if you are high enough in the national rankings (have defeated enough dogs). It's not so much that they won certain shows - though winning Best In Show at a venue with 3,000 dogs is certainly going to get you higher in the ranking than winning BIS at a show with 750 dogs - but that they defeated a certain number of other dogs by going Best in Breed, getting Group placements, or of course going BIS.

The spots that are not filled by invited dogs can be filled by any champion of record who is otherwise eligible for any dog show (has not been spayed or neutered, has not had one of the forbidden surgeries, etc.). So I could take Clue if I wanted to, for example. The only trick to it is that entries close very fast after opening (within a few hours, usually), so if you want to get in you need to hire one of the companies that specializes in it. They courier your entry to the door and do their very best to get you in.

Westminster is an "event" in the dog show world (even the ring stewards are either judges or prominent breeders, and there are events and parties and stuff swirling around the show for the entire week) and a lot of people enter every year even though they know they have almost no chance of winning the breed and going into Group. So you can get some relatively mediocre dogs in the rings there, which everybody knows about and claps for anyway. Generally the dogs that go into Group and end up on TV are the ranked ones that are winning breeds across the country and are considered very competitive.

If you want to look for the dogs who will be placed highest, you'll do just fine if you react viscerally. If you see a dog and just gasp, the judge is probably doing so too (although - shhh! - virtually all of the dogs in the group ring have been under those judges many times in the past, and the judges know them well). A dog who moves beautifully (who glides instead of bouncing, and whose legs extend as far in front and behind as possible) and who shows himself off well, never giving the judge a chance to see him looking awkward or ugly, is going to be very competitive.

This year the Sporting dogs are going to be very, very difficult to beat. Look for a Golden named Treasure (she is absolutely gorgeous and would be my pick for the group were I either a judge or a psychic) and an Irish Setter named Emily. There's an Affenpincher named Taser who is super, and that white toy poodle is always in the mix. In the corgis, I don't know who is likely to be there in the Pems but for Cardis I would imagine either Powell or Slick or Harvey or Dickens (maybe Tuffy too) will get into the group competition; I am not sure who is entered this year. Powell is most likely. None of them are likely to get group placements, though I will be pulling hard for an upset!

I've never been; both in Danes and in Cardigans the people who have owned my dogs' siblings and parents have entered, which is fun to give me somebody to cheer for, but I won't go myself until I don't have little kids at home and have a LOT more discretionary income!
I would love to go to this show! Of course my husband would rather get a stick in his eye! I guess I will watch on TV with everyone else and I always root for the corgis.
I'm excited for it as well. My husband makes fun of me but when I yell that the herding group is coming up he always appears on the couch and becomes giddy when the Corgis come on (especially the Cardigans of course).

Where do you view the invite list?
My new Aussie's breeder runs a holistic consultation business and has several clients that are big in the dog show world. One of her most famous clients is Spirit the Giant Schnauzer that was a big deal last year. This year she has Era (Greyhound), Keegan (Irish Water Spaniel), and Drummer (Bichon) that *should* take their breeds and be seen in the group ring. It's so fun to feel like I'm somehow connected and give me some dogs to root for!

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