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|| News Item: Posted 2000-02-23

Dog Day Afternoon
By Bob Deutsch, USA TODAY

Well, my Australia trip was nixed (the swimmer I was to shoot got the flu and a case of privacy)... so I was relegated to photographing a woman who wrote a book on maintaining a neat home. Couldn't get worse... until Hanashiro reminds me that at least I wasn't doing "Pet of the Week".


It's off to the Westminster Dog Show at cozy Madison Square Garden, where the dogs are friendly and the show officials are...well, never mind.

Photo by Bob Deutsch/USA Today

Photo by Bob Deutsch/USA Today
As our writer says in print, it is a show where "most of the contestants are sons of bitches and sometimes their owners or handlers are, too".

The real show is backstage, so crowded that trainers must pick up and carry the mutts across the hall for their "relief"...the floor is too crowded. It takes as much as 20 minutes to traverse 30 yards or so from the arena to the "benching" area. It's nuts! We decide to do a story on the hounds...the dog least likely to win best in show (as in NEVER).

One basset hound is in attendance that happens he is Top Dog...the best basset around. So he poses for me (sort of) and chats with the writer (sort of) and we have a story. The face no one loves! After the formal posing, up on the back of the handler he goes to be carried for his "relief" and another fun picture is bandana to protect his ears and drool all over. I'm almost having fun now...well, almost.

Next is the Maltese getting her curled and set...on her little pillow of Paper towels. Why can't I think of anything but field goals right about then?

Lastly I finish off with the St. Bernard lying on the floor taking it all in. Down I go on the floor for a tired dog's perspective. Good shot, except after laying on the floor for 10 minutes I remember all those dogs...and the floor...and, well, that's why I don't wear suits.

They do call this "sport"!

(Robert Deutsch is USA TODAY's New York - based staff photographer and resident animal lover.)

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