The Westminster dog show results are in: Sadie the Scottie (actually Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot) trotted off with the Best in Show trophy at Tuesday night, capping off a competitive season involving thousands of dogs and millions of dollars to compete in the most important dog show in the United States.
The Westminster show, in its 134th year, gobbles up dollar bills like liver snaps. The average large dog show will generate more than $1 million in business to a community, according to the American Kennel Club. Its Westminister show generates much, much more.
It attracts more than 2,500 dogs separated into 173 different breeds and varieties. For the top dogs, there are professional handlers and groomers, whose job is to make the dogs look their best. There are corporate sponsors and media.
But the fuel for all this economic activity is something beyond money.
As a group, pet owners in America spend nearly $50 million on their pets (click on the chart above). Owners of show dogs can spend more than $1 million a year on a single dog in a run for Westminster. There's grooming, dozens of shows a year, even advertising owners take out in dog magazines.
Yet, they receive very little in return beyond the thrill of competing and the occasional trophy. There's not much money in breeding fees or advertising.
Could it be that puppy love triumphs over the Almighty Buck?