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At Westminster, the Dogs Are in Charge

The tennis balls had been stashed away safely by the time 2,500 dogs and their obedient human entourages overtook the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens this weekend for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The event began on Saturday with agility, obedience and diving competitions before transitioning on Monday into the contests that are more familiar to the audience at home: best in breed, best in group and best in show.

The human-to-dog ratio at the tennis center might be 2 to 1, but the power balance favors the dogs. There were pugs being wheeled around in strollers, Dalmatians posing like statues on artificial turf, and basset hounds whose ears were strapped to their chins so they didn’t sweep the asphalt. In a tent reserved for grooming, a Lhasa apso was carefully flat-ironed while several miniature poodles were sculpted into sudsy topiaries.

The event, which was first held in 1877, called Madison Square Garden home for a century but relocated to the Lyndhurst, an estate just outside the city, during the early pandemic. This is the second year of the show’s being held in the Flushing section of Queens, with Arthur Ashe Stadium offering deluxe accommodations for the show’s main events.

Whether they win or lose, the dogs have remained exceedingly well behaved. The humans, who have a selection of beer and gin and tonics at several concession stands, have had more varied results.

Credit…Jonah Rosenberg for The New York Times

The dogs, win or lose, keep their cool throughout the event. The humans, on the other hand, run the gamut, with excitement, fear, happiness and devastation all on the table.


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