Journalist Josh Dean tells the story of a loveable Australian Shepherd, Jack, on his novice tour through the exciting world of professional dog showing, following Jack from his first competitions in local school gymnasiums all the way to the great granddaddy of them all, the Westminster Dog Show. A veteran journalist, Dean shines a warm, steady light on the trials that Jack and his plucky, dedicated owners come to face, and uses their story to explore the larger histories of dog shows themselves; the fascinating and sometimes bizarre history of purebred dogs; and our complex, heartfelt relationships to the pets we grow to love. For dog lovers, readers of Marley & Me, Merle’s Door, and Oogy, and fans of Best in Show, Dean’s Show Dog is an irresistible instant classic.
Every weekend, for nearly fifty weeks each year, tens of thousands of Americans pack up their SUVs and minivans with crates and dryers and treats and shampoos and hairsprays and plush toys and fan out for some of the two-thousand-plus dog shows held annually across the United States. More than two million pedigreed dogs, and exponentially more humans who handle and care for them, will take part in these events—for the most part happily—and the world that has grown up to support them is massive and vibrant, and almost impossible to imagine unless you've seen it in person.
By spending a year alongside rising star Jack, a champion Australian shepherd, and his canine and human friends, magazine journalist Josh Dean yanks back the curtain on the dog show world, providing not just a hilarious and often touching portrait of a colorful subculture only slightly exaggerated in the film Best in Show, but also a revealing look at our love affair with the world's most doted-upon and tinkered-with animal species, examining the colossal array of dog types and humans who love them.
The book follows Jack as he matures over the course of a year, from still-improving adolescent to seasoned adult show dog. We get to know him and the people around him—his owner, his handler, his breeder—to experience what it's like to own a show dog and to train one. And we come to appreciate him for what he is, a lovable and intelligent house pet—albeit one with a highly unusual occupation.
Along the way, Dean takes a close look at the eccentric and fascinating world of breeders and dog show fanciers—exploring the history and science of purebred dog breeding and the evolution of canine perfection via dog show culture, with that pursuit's many related peculiarities: judging, training, naming, promoting, hairstyling, kennel-owning, RV-driving, hotel-finding, treat-selecting, and more.
For more information on Josh Dean and The Book, visit www.joshdean.com/book
For a link to the Publisher’s page, visit Harper Collins Publishers
“We in the dog show world laughed, nodded knowingly, and endured the hilarious satirical put-up of us in the movie, “Best In Show.” Now, finally, ten years later, Josh Dean’s “Show Dog” provides the documentary, real-life version of what our world is really like. “Show Dog” is a well-written, entertaining and accurate look at our great sport of dog shows, with, admittedly, a bit of the movie always lurking between the lines. Competitive dogs, owners and handlers provide the action at the country’s greatest shows, and Dean makes you feel like you are right there with a brush or a show lead in your hand. And he also includes enough history and educational information about the inner workings of the sport to make this book a great accessory for anyone who wants to know more, whether they go to dog shows or just watch Westminster or the National Dog Show on television. Best of all is the emphasis that these are family dogs first and foremost, real dogs that are (in the words of a handler), “just pets who go to dog shows,” albeit “with a lot of fancy trappings.”
— David Frei
Voice of The Westminster Kennel Club & The National Dog Show
Author of “Angel On A Leash”
“A wonderful, charming look at the sport of dogs and dog shows and an absolute must read for anyone looking to get involved.”
— Pat Hastings, AKC Judge and Author of Tricks of the Trade
“A hilarious chronicle of blow-dried poodles, diva trainers and egregious canine puns. Above all, though, this is an irresistible story about the wondrous bond between humans and animals.”
— Mark Adams, Author of “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”
“Filled with heart and humor, bringing to life extravagant characters, pampered pooches, and over-the-top humans without falling prey to tired stereotypes. That’s because it’s not really about animal beauty pageants; it’s about the unyielding bond between people and dogs and what they’ll do to make each other happy.”
— Jim Gorant, Author of “The Lost Dogs”
“Fascinating and funny...as I was sucked into the story of Jack the show dog, I began to understand the subtleties of the sport, the amazing talents of these animals, and the affecting human-and canine-drama behind the show.”
— John Hodgman, Author of “That is All”