Westminster Dog Show: Day one

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Photographs: Caroline Voagen Nelson

We spent all of yesterday squealing, cooing and giggling like schoolgirls until we sent our serotonin levels into overdrive. The source of this heavenly euphoria? None other than the adorableness that is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which kicked off its 134th season yesterday at Madison Square Garden. It's where 2,500 anatomically perfect pups are competing for three highly distinguished titles: best in breed, best of group and—the glory of it all—best in show. Learn more about puppy powder, orthopedic shoes and odd odors after the jump. Remember when we introduced you to this year's three new breeds? Well, we caught up with Lola, the Norwegian buhund, on the floor after she nabbed best in breed. When asked if she was excited to have won such an honor, owner-handler Lisa Donnelly replied for her, "Are you kidding? She just wants to know where her liver treat is!" Just a few minutes afterward in the same ring, Pree, one of the Pyrenean Shepherds we profiled, went on to earn the top rank in her breed. Sadly, neither dog advanced in the herding group later that night, though we love their sweet muffin faces anyway.

Next, we headed backstage, where show dogs were being prepped and coiffed with blow dryers, hairspray, powder (used on white dogs to enhance their color and make them appear bulkier), combs, even the same flatiron we use to straighten our own hair! We couldn't help but remark how fresh it smelled in the dog grooming area though, as opposed to the stadium seating where we got a whiff of something funky—emanating from a human.

Among the highlights we encountered: Snooki-worthy poufs atop the heads of every shih tzu, poodles with braids la Snoop Dogg and a Chihuahua wearing a tiny tutu as "evening wear." Even more awe-inspiring than watching a Maltese float effortlessly in the ring, more remarkable than hearing fewer than three barks the entire time we were there, was this: Every woman handler wore a shoulder-padded skirt suit with orthopedic shoes—and there is no dress code. It boggles the mind.

We'll be back tomorrow with the report on tonight's winners and even more unbelievably cute photos of the pooches.

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