Chinese proud to compete in Westminster Dog Show in New York

By Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-02-14 12:14

Chinese proud to compete in Westminster Dog Show in New York

The prospect of competing in the Olympics of dog shows lured Cui Nian of Hangzhou to the Westminster Dog Show in New York.

Cui and his 3-year-old female toy poodle named "Oolong Tea" - after a famous Chinese tea - were competing in the toy group, one of seven different groups. The others are sporting, hound, working, terrier, non-sporting and herding.

Cui and Oolong Tea didn't advance beyond Monday's competition. "I came to this show because it's a world-famous event, like (the) Olympic Games," Cui said. "It's an honor for us to be here. I traveled from China with my dog on the plane. She was in the passenger cabin with me."

"Oolong Tea has been in many dog shows since she was 9 months old," Cui said. "She used to be the champion of Poodle Club of America National Specialty."

Cui said all the dogs at Westminster are show dogs.

"They have to go through strict training every day. They also have to be fed a special diet. I make a huge effort to take care of my dogs." Cui said. "I get up at four in the morning to give her a shower and comb her hair elaborately."

Cui, whose English name is Aico, is a professional breeder and groomer in China. He is the founder of Aico's Pet Grooming School in China.

"The Chinese grooming and breeding industry is developing very fast. Western countries like the US used to be the best, but now China's getting on top," said Cui.

Now in its 141st year, more than 3,000 dogs from 202 breeds have been entered in the show, sponsored by the Westminster Kennel Club. There will be Best of Breed honors for each of the different types competing, and those winners will advance to the group competition. Awards are given for the top four places in each group, but only the winners will advance to the final round and a chance at the coveted Best in Show title on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

"It's like any other beauty contest. The result doesn't matter a lot, for the judges are subjective on their preference of beauty," Cui said. "Although we didn't win the biggest awards, I am still happy with our participation. It's a great experience."

Lei Jianqin of Chengdu is the owner of a Bichon Frise that ranked as a top dog in the breed in China last year. Lei and her dog are not competing in Westminster this year.

"I came to the Westminster Kennel Club to improve my grooming skills. My dog and I have attended world dog shows for decades," Lei said. "We are very proud that our show dogs are bred in China and we compete in the US with our Chinese dogs."

Lei said that Americans have a 200-year breeding and grooming history. "It's still a new thing in China. However, the Chinese are doing great in dog shows," she said.

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