It's a dog-beat-dog world at Madison Square Garden this week, and observers often wonder how the animals, owners and handlers in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show—the most important such event in the United States—make it to the big stage.
The path is long, and it can be expensive. The show is not for beginners. In fact, almost a third of the dogs competing in Westminster are there by invitation, having been recognized as one of the top representatives of their breed. The other two-thirds are either champions or well on their way there.
The 2014 show marks a departure from longstanding tradition, however (and the WKC, which is in its 138th year, is big on tradition): Before this year, a dog had to be a champion to enter. Now, entrants can accumulate points toward a championship. With five points earned during events leading up to the WKC (and a $100 entry fee), any purebred dog can aim for the big prize.