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Ritual and Devotion at Westminster

Observations from a few hours spent at the 136th Kennel Club Dog Show

By Ashley Baxstrom

We gathered, one week ago, like so many pilgrims flocking to a holy site.

Or rather, flocking to a site where the objects of our devotion gathered. Was it the idea of a place in which generations had come together for more than a century, first in 1877 at Gilmore’s Gardens (the Hippodrome), and now here? True, most of the time Madison Square Garden plays host to feats of athletic prowess or demonstrations of theatrical and musical creation. But for this weekend, it was ours. The bright screens overhead glowed with our insignia, our group’s name. Green felt track covered the arena, an ice rink no more (though betrayed by a distinct chill in the air). And everywhere you look, we, the worshippers, and they, the worshipped.

Because it’s not about the place. It’s about the puppies. We’re all here to admire them, gaze at them with love and devotion. Me, I’d like to pet them. I’m not a member of this congregation, just a brief visitor, and I came for puppies. I came because my friend’s boss had tickets and let us borrow them for the morning. It’s like borrowing a parishioner’s pew, sitting in their seat, but the parish is so big nobody knows you don’t belong. They smile and nod at you, because you’re one of them, we’re all in this devotion together. Continue Reading →