New York (AP) – They are at the top of their sport. They are ready to run on tennis balls. So perhaps it’s entirely natural that around 3,000 top-class dogs converge on the grounds of the US Open, as the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show kicked off on Saturday.
It’s a new event venue nearly 150 years old, now returning to New York City after a two-year pandemic-induced sojourn in the suburbs.
Since the show kicked off on Saturday with an agility competition and other events, there were few, if not double faults.
Parks’ voice, not tennis balls, was heard across the sunny 40-acre (16 ha) grounds of Yosta Billie Jean King’s National Tennis Center. Arthur Ashe Stadium’s traditional Westminster green carpet for fleet-footed rivals – but with four feet – was laid out.
Dogs relaxed in their crates in a tented training ground. The fan-friendly South Plaza with a 27,000-gallon (102,200 L) pool was built for the dog dock diving demonstration. Turn in any direction, and a dog of some sort was likely to pass by.
“It’s strange to see them in a place where you don’t usually see dogs,” said Hailey Maynard, as she watched on the dock as she dived to pick up pointers for her back Dalmatian at her home in Bristol, Connecticut. Minnaar had attended the US Open but not the Westminster Show.
“The sport is accentuated,” she said, by the surroundings.
Meanwhile, Fletcher’s Malinois took the lead.
“We would never get to Westminster any other way,” laughed owner Jeanine Wich of Shellsburg, Pennsylvania. When not doing dock diving or other sports, Fletcher works as a bedbug-spotting dog.
Stella competed in agility It’s 2021, but it’s back on Saturday as dock diving, her favorite outdoor sport, arrives in Westminster waters.
“The experience is so cool, to come with your dog…and even to show a healthy bulldog,” said owner Lucy Hayes of Dayton, Ohio, who taught Stella to swim years ago. for safety).
For most of its history, Westminster has been held in Manhattan, where generations of top show dogs have been anointed at Madison Square Garden. In order to hold the event outdoors during the COVID-19 crisis, the organizers moved it to the grounds of an estate in the suburbs of Tarrytown, New York, for the past two years.
The club sought to return to New York City, with factors being evaluated including plans to build on the Manhattan dock building that had previously hosted part of the show. The Tennis Center emerged as an alternative.
Besides hosting a Grand Slam tennis tournament, the Queens-based facility has been trying to position itself in recent years as a flexible ceremonial venue. It has welcomed wrestling, video games and BIG3 3-on-3 basketball Embrace competitions and let the dogs have their day.
“From the biggest stars of tennis to the biggest stars in the canine world,” said Chris Studley, the facility’s senior director of event services. President of Westminster Donald Storrs was equally optimistic about the prospect of an “iconic dog show event in an iconic setting”.
Manhattan certainly offered a certain allure to some of the participants traveling in from all over the country. But the expansive tennis center allows all events to be held in one place, adding new events and giving dogs and people more elbow room.
While dogs are not usually the main attraction at a tennis center, there are plenty of players who have been known to bring their dogs on their tours.
Serena Williams was playing soccer at Arthur Ashe Stadium when she trained ahead of last year’s US Open, her last event before retirement. Her older sister, Venus, has also been seen with a dog at tournaments. Biana Andreescu’s pet, Coco, is often found with Andreescu’s mother in the stands during matches. Alexander Zverev adopted a dog while in Miami a few years ago prior to the Miami Open.
Some of the vendors had tennis balls on hand on Saturday, but dogs like Leslie Wilk had other activities on their minds. The Collie-Staffordshire bull terrier mix darted down the agility track as if intent on living up to its name, Champion.
“Every time she gets to the line, she gives her best shot,” said Wilk, of Camarillo, California.
Look at it this way, and the human and canine athletes at the tennis center aren’t all that different.
AP tennis writer Howard Fendrich contributed from Washington. New York-based journalist Jennifer Peltz has covered the Westminster dog show since 2013.
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