GREENWOOD — Once Santa Claus has made his appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, if you are one of 20 million people, you don’t turn your TV off. Instead you leave it on NBC to watch the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show.
If you tune in, you will see a hometown dog Thursday at the event, competing for Best in Show.
MM, a 4-year-old Lakeland Terrier, lives with her owner/trainer Ariel Cukier of Greenwood. MM is the country’s No. 6 terrier and the No. 1 Lakeland Terrier.
Mr. Cukier, who has been showing dogs ever since his father did it as a hobby in Costa Rica when he was a kid, says MM is his most successful dog yet.
“She had babies first. She has only competed around six months. Really, the moment we started showing her, she competed one week, and then COVID happened. So this is basically her first year competing seriously. And she has already had multiple Best in Show winners,” Mr. Cukier said.
Mr. Cukier, who has been a professional trainer and handler with his wife Sarah for the past five years, cannot say how MM made out in Philadelphia on Saturday but did say it’s one of the more important shows on the circuit.
“It’s like one of the most prestigious dog shows in the country. The fact that it’s broadcast on Thanksgiving Day makes it even more special, so a lot of people want to be there and participate in it,” he said.
The Westminster Dog Show in New York is the most prestigious. This year, MM finished second in the Lakeland Terrier category and will be back next year to compete.
Mr. Cukier received MM from another trainer when she was 2 years old.
“She said, ‘I have this dog and I want you to have her. You can keep her and you can prepare her and then we can see how she matures.’ So I put her in conditioning and we finished her. And I had another dog that I was showing at the time who wasn’t doing very well, so we decided to give that one a break and bring her out,” Mr. Cukier said.
He has been involved in dog shows ever since he can remember.
“I started coming to dog shows here in the U.S. just like back and forth (from Costa Rica) with my own dogs when I was 18 and then I just came to work for a handler and got my residency here and everything. I decided to take it to another level and I decided that I wanted this to be my career. I met my wife at a dog show, in fact,” he said.
“I worked for different handlers here as an apprentice for 10 years and it just all went from there.”
Mr. Cukier said he, his wife and an assistant showed 15 dogs at the event in Philadelphia on Saturday.
This is the 20th year the show has been broadcast by NBC, however the show itself dates back to the late 1800s.
It will air at noon with an encore presentation in primetime on Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m.
The show is hosted by John O’Hurley of “Seinfeld” fame and expert analyst David Frei. Olympics host and tennis analyst Mary Carillo joins as sideline reporter.
One new breed certified by the American Kennel Club will be on hand at the show. It is the Biewer Terrier, competing in the Toy Group as one of almost 200 different breeds and varieties.
NBC’s digital offering will also include on-demand coverage of all seven groups plus Best in Show. In addition, NBCSports.com and NationalDogShow.com will provide video of the examination of every breed in the group judging competition with specific commentary by Wayne Ferguson, the president of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, following the broadcast.