BEST IN SHOW { 34 images } Created 17 Feb 2010

Established in 1881, the American Spaniel Club prides itself on it's history of excellence in upholding the high standards of the breed.

The annual The ASC Flushing Spaniel Show, unique within dog shows being that only spaniels are shown, is a gathering of nearly a thousand dogs, among the largest dog shows in the US. All 12 spaniel varieties compete for the prestigious 'Best in Show' award at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Spaniel owners from all around the country, often boarding flights and traveling for days by caravan at costly expense, make the pilgrimage for the 3 day event in January, showcasing their dogs before distinguished judges.

The frenzied backstage environment acts as grooming headquarters. Owners scurry to prepare their prized pooches in their best possible presentation through very elaborate, often excessive, methods. The air is awash with hair spray, a cacophonous presence of hair dryers, tables cluttered with innumerable combs, nail clippers and garish ribbons. Far more time is spent grooming than the actual competition, which itself lasts only a few minutes.

The ringside display involves each of the 12 spaniel pedigrees, 10 dogs at a time, with multitudes of heats throughout the 4 day tournament. Colorful, quirky names of the competition classes include: Futurity Juniors, High Combined, Brace Puppies, Non-reg veterans, speaking to the energetic nature of the contest. Each showing sees handlers flaunting the respective qualities of their spaniels: ideal proportions, a pleasing disposition, a disciplined gait, and of course immaculate grooming.

All these successive heats point towards the finest canines within each breed, 'Best in Class,' and ultimately, with the gallery packed in fervid anticipation, the final showing features a dozen distinguished dogs and the crowning of 'Best in Show.'

The victor was a black bitch cocker spaniel named Casablanca's Thrilling Seduction.
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