If you are a living human attending NYU, you’ve probably spent at least a cumulative daydreaming wistfully about snuggling with a puppy/kitten/bird/dragon of your very own, and lamenting your dorm’s no-pets policy. (Or if you’re me, you just said screw it and smuggled a hedgehog into your dorm anyway.) If you’re too afraid of The Man to make your fantasy of drowning in a sea of hairless Sphynx cats a reality, then there’s the American Kennel Club’s annual Meet the Breeds convention, “the world’s largest showcase of dogs and cats” which took place at the Javits Center this past weekend. God, I love New York.
The initial scene was staggering: a convention hall the size of a jet hangar, packed to the gills (pet pun) with orderly booths, each the temporary habitat of the marvelous beast within. Directly to the left of the entrance was a photo-op area, which took the form of a fake green lawn, doggy bowls, and a human-sized fire hydrant for visitors to pretend to pee on. “Everybody lift your leg!” one mother called to her trio of scrubby toddlers, who gleefully obliged.
This wasn’t the last of the convention’s overwhelmingly glorious photo and commerce opportunities: I stopped by the Fine Arf by Lisa Greene booth, which specializes in luxury silver jewelry for you and Fido. Golden Couture Pet unfortunately didn’t have anything me-sized — their mission is to provide fashion-forward felines with immaculately knitted sweaters and caps. There was an pop-up Pinkberry booth not-so-sneakily located next to the women’s facilities (I see you, Kennel Club) which you KNOW this girl hit up. The very fact that pop-up Pinkberry booths exist made me cackle so hard that the Maine Coon cat lady gave me a weird look. I also renewed my New York Times subscription at their booth and received a free umbrella which I promptly lost.
I started in the dog section and worked my way cat-ward, making scores of furry buddies and pausing every so often to sob quietly to myself as my brain was assaulted by an overload of cuteness-induced dopamine (science!). And it wasn’t just the critters — many of the humans accompanying them dressed up themselves and their booths to reflect their each pet’s cultural and historical origins: the English Mastiff booth was made up to look like a stone castle, and the handlers all wore full medieval garb. The Pharaoh hound was surrounded by pyramids and luxurious green fronds. The at once terrifying and awe-inspiring Irish Wolfhound needed no decoration, primarily because it is the size of a house and, despite being incredibly gentle, seemed perpetually in danger of squashing every screaming youngin’ who ran up to pet it.
If I had one complaint, it is that the convention was disappointingly low on puppies and kittens — the majority of the animals were fully grown, save for one Keeshond puppy named Cornelius who has changed my life forever. As his helpful handler told me, he’s named after passionate Keeshond owner Cornelius de Gyselaar, the leader of the Patriot political faction of 1780’s Holland and William of Orange’s direct contender. Cornelius (the puppy) is also fluffy to the point of being dangerous; a compact firestorm of potential energy which, if fully realized, I believe could flatten civilization or end world hunger.
At the Kennel Club convention, I learned that a pair of corgis wearing tutus is scientifically proven to transform grown men into cooing saps. I learned that there is no better feeling than receiving a high-five from an immaculately trained Great Dane. I met cats the size of dogs, dogs the size of cars, and paid way too much for fro yo. My conclusion? Pets are the great equalizer; a brutal force of adorable which actively contribute to the betterment of society. I dare you to hold a warm kitten to your face and try to hate anything at all.
[Images by Helen Holmes]