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Morning Spew

Letter of Recommendation: Get High for the Dog Show

It's the only way to do it.

9:42 AM EDT on May 11, 2023

The sporting group at the Westminster Dog Show 2023.

Yeah, it’s a bad picture. More on that later. (Hell Gate)

New Yorkers are pretty freaking lucky when it comes to sporting event options. We get to watch a 4D chess master at work with our beloved Knicks; we're blessed with two different MLB teams; allegedly, there are even New York football teams. 

But there's one sporting institution that trumps them all: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a 147-year tradition that you should absolutely get stoned as hell for and attend next year. Going to the dog show is my oldest, and perhaps only, NYC-oriented tradition, and it brings me so much consistent, annual joy that I just have to pass it on. 

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a straightforward affair, which makes it ideal terrain for getting very high. You don't need to know the rules to have a good time—in fact, it's kind of better if you don't really understand what's going on, so that you can soak in the pure cuteness of the pups and the sheer weirdness of the whole heavily sequined spectacle, crowd included. Someone in your vicinity will be wearing a tuxedo and it will make you feel unhinged. The freaky-ass purebred dogs, wrought by man instead of nature, get inspected by a judge. Then, they run in a circle a few times and the mostly white, mostly 60-plus crowd politely claps and cheers. For whatever reason, one of them wins. The one thing that's important to know, for absurdity reasons, is that there is absolutely no money on the line, even though you may have paid between $50 (at the box office) or $63 (online, with handling fees) to attend. That's right: The winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show does not get a dime in prize funds. They just get money when their winning dog breeds with other dogs. Isn't that wild?

Another major pro of the dog show (for the Luddites among us) is that it's completely impossible to photograph with a phone camera—see the photo at the top of this post. No matter what, you will be too far from the "action" to take a good picture of a dog. God knows I've tried, and the NSA or whoever's looking at my camera roll knows I've failed. You can take a decent snapshot of a large TV screen with a dog on it, but literally why would you want to do that? That's a horrible picture. Nay—you must live in the moment and like it.

So why go to an event that's confusing and hard to post about for clout? Because it is amazing to see beautiful dogs at work, especially in the moments where they break their show dog composure and do something like bark, or stand up on their back paws and beg for a treat, or gaze at their handlers with soppy devotion before a stranger touches their balls. The audience goes wild for that shit, like when we all cooed in unison as Sebastina, an affectionate Great Pyrenees, jumped on his handler and immersed her in a white oblivion of fluff while he waited for his turn to walk. In those moments, you understand you're in great dog-lover company.

The competition that determines which pup is Best in Show takes place over two days, although if you plan on implementing the "eat 50-plus milligrams of THC and just chill" scheme that we're two thumbs-upping here, you really only need to go once. A fun game to play, invented by the friend this reporter has attended the dog show with since 2018, is: Does this dog know it's in a contest? Some of them do. You can see it in their eyes. And some of the dogs even have enough star power to warrant actual cheers from the extremely tame crowd; in 2019, a Sussex spaniel named Bean absolutely brought the house down. Like, you had to be there, and be there baked as fuck, to understand that animal's sheer charisma. Buddy Holly, the petit basset griffon Vendéen who won this year's dog show, had some of that charisma, too—he seemed to drink in the cheers from the crowd as he trotted through his final lap with a gentle wag of his tail.

This reporter almost feels bad for not recommending this course of action sooner—to be clear, I am recommending that you consume heavy amounts of weed, preferably in edible form, before or during the dog show. But fortunately for all of us, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show endures, and you can do this next year. This year's show was the 147th, as in they started holding this thing in New York City in 1877, and its website proudly states that the event predates "the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, basketball, and the establishment of the World Series in baseball."  

Its new home, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, is not as well-appointed as Madison Square Garden—food options are far more limited than at MSG, and, hilariously, the acoustics in the stadium made the commentary from the show completely inaudible from the upper floor of seating that general admission attendees were shuffled into. Still, the audio issues kind of add to the fun because of how deeply on brand they are for the whole event. An arbitrary yet tangible hierarchy? What's more Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show than that?

And now, some recommended links for your Thursday morning:

  • Eric Adams continues to be obtuse at best about Jordan Neely.
  • ProPublica got the full NYPD investigation into the police killing of Kawaski Trawick and will you believe that the officers lied and that investigators who had access to video footage that contradicted their claims never asked them about it. Meanwhile, the CCRB is investigating the NYPD's arrest of the photojournalist Stephanie Keith at a vigil for Neely. But due to Eric Adams's budget cuts, the CCRB says that, per Gothamist, its "new police watchdog unit tasked with holding NYPD officers accountable for racial discrimination could be forced to stop investigating cases just months after it launched."
  • Ah, you know what, tough week for Eric all around.
  • Not a great week for former City Councilmember Andy King either.
  • With this attitude, Hannah Gadsby would probably love The Smith.
  • Fine, fine, I admit it: George Santos is awesome.
  • And the Queens GOP chair agrees!
  • Immigration court backups are still a big problem for asylum seekers.
  • C'mon Bill, where's our invite?
  • Damn, these kids and their parents are going to have a terrible summer.
  • Doing things the right way is definitely not paying off for the people trying to make money with legal weed.
  • Don't want a casino in New York City? How about after you see a shitty light show?
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