Back Bay’s Max A’Million — known on Instagram as @westiethebestie — already was a winner before stepping into the Westminster Kennel Club’s best-of-breed ring, one of his owners said Tuesday morning at Pier 92 in Manhattan.
Chiropractor Carole Schuster of Locust Valley, a former Yorkie owner, said of the West Highland White Terrier: “He’s my first Westie. This is my first time at the [Westminster] show and he’s like my first love.”
One of more than two dozen Long Island dogs registered for the confirmation judging, Max also was among the 3,000 or so canines taking part in dog show events. That includes mixed breeds who have participated in the agility and obedience competitions, in this, Westminster’s 140th year.
The pier was teeming with creatures that were hard to believe come under the umbrella of canine — ranging from small, pickup-able fluffs to those that are supersized, bringing to mind the notion of sleek, black-and-white ponies. In all, 199 breeds and varieties, including this year’s seven new breeds, are in town for the events, including Tuesday night’s culmination — the best in show competition at Madison Square Garden,
As for Max, around 1 1⁄2 years old, being a champion show dog is just part of his world, Schuster, 58, a semi-retired chiropractor, said. He’s also in training to become a therapy dog and has already been paying visits to a Long Island residence for children with cerebral palsy.
“You’re already a winner if you’ve done one good thing,” she said.
To shouts of “here come the Westies,” from a few children in the area, Max entered Ring 2 like a boss, tail erect, dark eyes alert and peering out from his face of snow white fur.
Though he did not get to experience the best-of-breed victory lap or photo op, he’s already somewhat of an Internet celebrity, with his more than 12,000 Instagram followers from around the world, Schuster said.
Westminster has been making its own increasing forays into social media, this year adding real-time Periscope videos, with Instagram itself set to curate images from Tuesday night’s activities, said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications.
The idea, she said, is to connect with “new faces, new people,” as well as to grow alongside the club’s more digitally savvy canine-owners. Social media also allows for telling more of the dogs’ personal stories, she said, like those of Max and others who do therapy service.
Though not to be one of the best-in-show contenders, Max is not hurting for love, Schuster said.
He’s gotten virtual good luck wishes from around the world, Australia, Europe, the U.S., with a couple of Westies from Laguna Beach [California] — would-be girlfriends — even sending him a snail mail card.
Said Schuster, “How sweet is that?”