On Sunday, Rosie and I headed over to the Javits Center to check out the much-anticipated Meet the Breeds, the “world’s largest gathering of dogs and cats,” hosted by the American Kennel Club and The International Cat Association. We were promised 200 different breeds, animal agility competitions, law enforcement K9s in action, and a cat fashion show. Alas, we missed the cat fashion show, but we saw a lot. And learned more.
Lesson #1: Animal lovers are their own special breed. There are animal lovers, and then there are dog and cat show people. While most of those attending Meet the Breeds were amateurs, not professionals, there were hundreds there, and they were enthusiastic! This is to say, it was hard to get close to the most “popular” breeds: The mastiff tent, styled in a medieval garb, was thronged, as was the French bulldog table. The corgis, also, were swarmed. However, we can fault no one, except maybe the cats, for lack of energy and commitment to the cause at hand. #Overheard at Meet the Breeds: “I think we should go find the Bichons.”
Lesson #2: Many dog and cat owners actually do look like their pets. The guy handling the Cane Corso was well muscled and seemed to possess a low center of gravity, much like his dog. The handler of the Cesky (a dog from the Czech Republic, there are only 600 of them in the U.S.) also sported a salt and pepper mustache and beard. Chihuahuas wore clothes, and so did their owners! Meanwhile, the Toto-dog handlers were dressed like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz characters. Did you know that Toto, a Cairn terrier, has his own book? HeShe does, and hisher real name is Terry, thank you very much. [Terry was a girl! Thanks to the commenter below for alerting us to the error.]
Lesson #3: Random cocktail party facts.
-There is a breed of cats that likes to swim! They are called Turkish Vans, and they (in general) love water to the extent that the one we met enjoys sitting in the sink and also bathing. Their fur feels waxy to the touch.
–Cat therapy: It is a thing.
–Selkirk rex cats have a dominant genetic mutation that makes their hair follicle uneven and gives them soft, almost crimped looking fur. We were told, “they aren’t very intelligent, but they are pretty.” Know your strengths!
-Toyger cats look like mini-tigers, but are completely domesticated. If you want a “pet quality” Toyger, you’ll be out $800-$1200. For “show quality,” you’re looking at three or four grand.
-Munchkin cats (with the short legs) come in every color and every eye color.
-There are less than 30 Hamiltonstovare (pronounced “schtovar”) dogs in the U.S., and there is a 5 to 10 year waiting list to get one.
-The fur on a Komondor dog, the one that looks a bit like a comfy living room rug, at left, just grows that way. You just bathe it, no brushing.
Lesson #4: There is a huge business based around people who love dogs and cats, including jewelry, cat and dog apparel, tchotchkes, snacks, food, litter accoutrement, beds, pillows, dog and cat portraits, toys, and numerous other accoutrement, not least, dog and cat shows themselves.
Lesson #5: The best dog and cat names are people names. Some we heard: Ida, Ruby, Murray, Ishy, Alice, Ron, Timmy. Best name has to go, though, to Lash LaRue, the 17th Best International Cat of the Year Tonkinese (2000), Tonkinese Kitten of the Year (1999), and a CFA Grand Champion as well as a TICA Supreme Grand Champion.
Lesson #6: We finally figured out how show animals get those ridiculously long names. Take, for example, LA SGC Toytown’s Lash Larue of Elvessa, mentioned above. The LA stands for Lifetime Achievement, meaning the cat has won three times in three different years. SGC means “Supreme Grand Champion,” which means that Lash Larue has won the Grand Champion prize four time. (Lash’s owner Laurie Schiff told us that in the dog world, the “champion” title doesn’t mean nearly as much as in the cat world.) Toytown is the “cattery” from whence he came. Lash Larue is the cat’s name, what you would call him if you were to see him in a casual setting, and Elvessa is Schiff’s cattery. A cattery is what it sounds like.
Lesson #7: Three hours spent asking people and animals questions in the bowels of the Javits Center will make you feel as though you’ve been on a six-hour cross-country flight in coach. We got out of there, ready to take on the world in the out of doors, but older and wiser…and far more fulfilled. Thank you, Meet the Breeds!