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Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2012: Animals Prepare For The Pooch Parade (PHOTOS)

AP    
First Posted: 02/11/2012 1:42 pm Updated: 02/14/2012 1:14 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Standing at attention, or "stacked," as they say in the dog show world, Eira is the picture of wire fox terrier perfection.

A dense, white coat falls off her jaws. She's got alert eyes, a very still tail and plenty of ribbons to prove her pedigree.

And she's primed for America's most prestigious pooch parade, the 136th Westminster Kennel Club event, starting Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Handler Gabriel Rangel hopes so, anyway.

"Oh, she can misbehave," he said last weekend. "She likes to run into my knee, having fun."

She did that and more at Westminster last February — fine behavior when she's at home, playing on the California beaches, but not exactly what the judges want to see when picking a champion.

"It was a bit overwhelming for her. A lot of people around, a lot of things happening," Rangel said. "She'll be more used to it this time."

More than 2,000 of dogdom's finest will come in 185 breeds and varieties, coming from as far as Russia and China. The nearby Empire State Building will signal their arrival, changing its tower lighting from champion New York Giants blue to Westminster purple and gold.

There are prized terriers and poodles, plus an affenpinscher with a monkey face called Banana Joe. And there's a newcomer to the green carpet of the Garden, the xoloitzcuintli — commonly known as a Mexican hairless, pronounce it as "show-low-eats-QUEEN-tlee" and sound like a pro.

On Tuesday night, with a crowd of elite fanciers such as Martha Stewart and everyday fans hollering for their favorites, judge Cindy Vogels will point to her pick as best in show.

Last year, a Scottish deerhound named Hickory earned the esteemed silver bowl. She also got to lead the pre-Westminster parade that recently attracted all that Manhattan attention.

"Oh, it changes your life," exclaimed her owner, Ceil Dove. "You never expect it. There's only one every year, and suddenly they choose you."

"Now, everywhere you go, someone asks, 'Is that her?'" she said.

Hickory's life is a little different these days, too. She took time off from chasing deer and rabbits on the Doves' farm in Flint Hill, Va., to have a litter of nine in October.

By show dog standards, her win was quite an upset. A true underdog, so to speak. This year, there are plenty of top contenders that may join the likes of previous popular winners such as Uno the beagle, Josh the Newfoundland and J.R. the bichon frise.

"Some really great dogs this year," offered David Frei, for more than two decades the expert TV host at Westminster.

Terriers have often ruled this show, with wire foxes winning a record 13 times. The top dog of 2012 could be decided by whether Eira or a smooth fox terrier that goes by Sneak's A Peek wins the group and reaches the best-of-seven final ring.

Eira, whose name sounds like "Ira" and means "snow" in Welsh, recently won the big National Dog Show — the event televised on Thanksgiving. And Rangel's a pro, having guided Sadie the Scottish terrier to the win at Westminster in 2010.

Sneak's A Peek also is a veteran, having won the terrier group at the Garden last year. If he's among the last seven, he's got an excellent chance. Vogels comes from a terrier background and twice in the last two years at regional competitions she picked him for best in show honors.

Along with being familiar with a dog, "the more you know, the more you know what's wrong, too," she said Thursday. "Judging is judging is judging."

Among others in the mix: London, a standard poodle that won the AKC/Eukanuba event, a pert Pekingese that took the Westminster toy group last year and Casablanca's Thrilling Seduction, a black cocker spaniel that was the No. 1 show dog in America this year after making the final ring here last February.

A three-part renovation at the Garden that cut into the backstage benching area caused Westminster to trim this year's entries from the usual 2,500. That shouldn't affect the 3½ million TV viewers, not including some pets who like to watch along with their owners.

USA Network and CNBC will share Monday night's coverage when the hound, toy, nonsporting and herding winners will be chosen. USA will televise Tuesday night for the top sporting, working and terriers and best in show.

What fans at home will not see are those wrenching commercials by Pedigree that underlined animal neglect and abuse. Purina is now a Westminster sponsor and will feature more upbeat ads.

What viewers will see are six new breeds to Westminster — the xoloitzcuintli, the Entlebucher mountain dog, the Norwegian lundehund, the American English coonhound, the Finnish lapphund and the Cesky terrier.

"I was looking for a new breed," said Loren Marino, of Manchester, N.J., showing off her Cesky called Katrina. "I'm looking forward to being at Westminster the first time they're eligible."

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  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy poses for photographers after winning Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Samoyed Grand Champion Mcmagic's Candied Ham of Pebblesrun competes in the Sporting Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy carried by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, are congratulated by runners up after they win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • A handler holds down the tail of a Portu

    A handler holds down the tail of a Portuguese water Dog in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best

    Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best in Show during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Doberman Pinscher Grand Champion Protocal's Veni Vidi Vici (R) wins the Working Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best

    Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best in Show during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Doberman Pinscher Grand Champion Protocal's Veni Vidi Vici wins the Working Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy carried by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, are congratulated by runners up after they win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy is held for photographers by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, after winning Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Raaza, a Komondorok, waits to go into the ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CJ, a Newfoundland, in the backstage area during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Dogue de Bordeaux waits to go in the

    A Dogue de Bordeaux waits to go in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jackson, a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from Argyle, Texas, is photographed at the Spot Suite at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Elvis, a 4-year-old Bearded Collie works out on a dog tread in the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Westminster Kennel Club Director of Communications David Frei, right, leads a dog procession across 7th Ave with last years' champion Hickory, a 5-year old Scottish Deerhound, ahead of a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 in New York. The Westminster Kennel Club introduced six new breeds in advance of the Westminster Dog Show.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Hoss, a 5-year old Entlebucher Mountain Dog, is photographed during a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in New York. The Westminster Kennel Club introduced six new breeds in advance of the Westminster Dog Show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Lorraine Shore, of Sequim, Washington, grooms Dazzle a 2-year-old Papillon at the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Jenna, a 4-year-old Great Dane from Japan takes advantage of the facilities at the Spot Suite at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Sitting in the lap of her costumed owner Gena Oddo, of Carriere, Miss., Sophia Oddo, a white pomeranian, attends the 2012 Pre-Westminster Fashion Show Friday Feb. 10, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

  • This undated photo courtesy of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows a Cesky terrier. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Miu Miu, a Chihuahua, poses at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: A dog rides in a stroller at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Sophia, white Pomeranian from Mississippi, sits on Jena Oddo's lap at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Grace Forester, who stars in a reality series 'Doggie Moms,' holds Rosie (L) and Portia (R) at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows an Entlebucher mountain dog. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows an American English coonhound. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows a Finnish Lapphund. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • Michelle Paulin and Storm,a Dogue de Bor

    Michelle Paulin and Storm,a Dogue de Bordeaux, in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Ripley, a Golden Retriever, during the

    Ripley, a Golden Retriever, during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Dillon, a Sealyham Terrier, during the

    Dillon, a Sealyham Terrier, during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Bentley, a Cocker Spaniel, in the backs

    Bentley, a Cocker Spaniel, in the backstage area during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Trinity, a Neopolitan Mastiff, waits to

    Trinity, a Neopolitan Mastiff, waits to go in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Champion Sandale-Paj Captain Barbosa, a Great Dane, rests at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Dogs go to the bathroom at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Dogs and their significant others ride in the freight elevator as they leave Madison Square Garden on the last day of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • A young girl watches judging during the

    A young girl watches judging during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A "Dogs Against Romney" press event in f

    A 'Dogs Against Romney' press event in front of Madison Square Garden during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show February 14, 2012 in New York. The protest is sponsored by Dogs Against Romney - and will seek to focus more public attention on the fact that US presidential candidate Mitt Romney forced his dog to ride for 12-hours on the roof of his car. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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