hhpMany of us who live with a cat or dog have no doubt that ours is the smartest, most beautiful, or most talented cat or dog in the world. In fact, this belief is so common among pet owners that it has given rise to a massive show circuit where people compare their pets and compete for titles.

I have to confess I’ve never entered a cat or dog of my own in a show – not because my animal friends are anything less than perfect in my book, but because I’ve just never gone beyond my own book. I do remember, though, how I coveted a little plastic loving cup my big sister won with our dog Cookie at an amateur dog show when we were kids. It came with a beautiful blue ribbon and six cans of dog food.

Who goes in for shows with their pets and why? When I asked pet owners these questions, I was met with a tremendous variety of answers. For many people, dog and cat shows are social occasions. The show circuit is a network where animal owners make new friends and connect with old ones who share their passion for their pets. Some are drawn by the thrill of competition, the buzz of anticipation, the prospect of winning. For still others, there may be a business angle. Pets that win big – and their descendants – are highly prized among breeders