If you’ve ever wanted to cuddle a corgi, nuzzle a Newfoundland or pet a pumi, Saturday’s the day.
Expect agility contests and outrageous costumes (on the owners, not the dogs).
But mostly, the AKC’s Gina DiNardo says, prepare to be entertained and enlightened about the character of more than a hundred breeds, by the people who know and love them most. You just may want to get on the ground and roll around with them (the dogs, not the owners).
This year’s meet-and-greet features 135 breeds of dog, including the newest members of the club: the low-slung grand basset griffon Vendéen and the spaniel-like Nederlands kooikerhondje.
Then again, most purebreds have been on the AKC’s roster forever. The English mastiff joined the club in 1885. And for one Long Island household, it’s been a member of the family since 1999.
That’s when Pat Flanagan Borracci and her family brought home a mastiff puppy they named Duncan. The Dix Hills family had never had a dog before, just a French lop rabbit. They made sure that whatever breed they chose wouldn’t make a meal of their bunny.
“Duncan didn’t eat the rabbit,” Borracci says of her “teddy bear” of a pup, who eventually grew to 220 pounds. “The rabbit used to beat him up!”
Her family soon became fierce fans of the breed, gentle giants with an appetite to match. And since what goes in must come out, “There’s a lot of scooping,” she says.
Not only that, but spit happens. “You’ll be watching TV and wondering, ‘What’s that thing on the screen?’ ” says Borracci, who works in advertising. “There’s no flat paint in a house with these dogs — you have to be able to wipe everything down.”
Nevertheless, says Borracci, who’s had six mastiffs since Duncan, these dogs are worth it. Loving, loyal and protective, they’re known as “the keepers of the castle.”
Which is why you’ll find her, husband Joe and daughters Veronica and Morgan on Saturday with their apricot-colored, 8-year-old mastiff, Rouge, inside what looks like a medieval fortress, dressed like knights and princesses.
“I don’t dress up like a queen,” Borracci says. “That’s for the corgis.”
More specifically, the Pembroke Welsh corgis, the queen of England’s constant companions. For years, the Pembroke people hired an Elizabeth II look-alike to greet the Meet the Breeds crowd, which last year, DiNardo says, numbered 12,000.
Sharon Fremer doesn’t dress as the queen, either. “That would be misleading,” the Wyckoff, NJ, resident says. Her booth features Cardigan Welsh corgis, which have tails and thicker coats than the queen’s breed.
Though Fremer grew up with a beagle and kept and showed Bernese mountain dogs, it wasn’t until a dozen or so years ago that she saw her first “Cardis.”
“I’d been watching Animal Planet and this breed caught my eye,” she says. “They were bouncing around Wales and I thought, ‘They look like fun!’”
She got her first corgi, Willy, in 2006. These days, the technical writer and her husband share their home with Eve, who turned 9 on Friday, and Houston, a 5-year-old male.
“They’re like little clowns,” she says. “They’re very vocal and they have a sense of humor — they’re crazy goofy!” Indeed. A newly viral video this week shows a corgi riding its neighbor’s pony. Generally speaking, Fremer says, corgis were bred to herd, not ride.
“They’re low to the ground and nip the heels of whatever they’re herding,” she says. “And they’re bossy! I’ve had them herd me out of the dining room and onto the deck.”
It’s information like that, DiNardo says, that can help you determine whether or not a particular breed is right for you.
“What we care about most is that you have a happy, healthy relationship with your dog,” says DiNardo, who has three dogs herself, “because the human-canine bond is unlike anything else.”
And while many people these days are opting for mutts, those who cherish purebreds say there’s a place for them, too.
“Many of these breeds go back thousands of years and were bred for specific purposes,” says the corgi-loving Fremer, who also opens her home to stray dogs and cats.
“They’re consistent, you can predict their temperament — and they’re family. You don’t want to see them disappear.”
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $35 adults, $20 children. Piers 92 and 94 (55th Street and the West Side Highway); AKC.org. For safety reasons, please leave your own pets at home.
This content was originally published here.