So last night I attended the finals of the American Kennel Club’s Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden and today I learned that the top dog — a Sussex spaniel from Texas who answers to the name “Stump” but is known in this strange world of deluxe dogs as Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee — actually shares my birthday!

This might be even more amusing and surreal than the notion that I even attended a dog show, that there had to be 10,000 people there last night chanting the winning dog’s name as they tried to pressure the judge into choosing the Sussex spaniel over the Standard poodle or the pug or the Scottish deerhound.

That Stump and I were both born on Dec. 1 (and, no, Stump and I are not anywhere near the same age either in dog years or human years) might even be more amusing than the guy who sat behind me and in all seriousness made comments about each dog including these personal favorites: “Oh, look! Like a little runway model!” and (referring, as I recall, to a pug as it strutted around the Garden floor) “How proud my little boy looks!” and (referring to a poodle) “You can just tell how much she loves the applause!”

Now I have to admit that my own enthusiastic companion oohed when she saw the beautiful Siberian huskie and aahed when she saw the elegant Scottish deerhound and even sighed and murmurerd a little “awwwwwww….” at the sight of the cute little Yorkie. And I have to admit hat I kind of envied the folks who were sitting right down near the floor — the actual dog owners and card-carrying members of the AKC, I’d imagine — all decked out in their tuxedos and gowns, drinks in hand while I debated whether to spend $5 for a bottle of water.

But I also have to admit that I had second thoughts about how harmless and amusing this whole affair really was when I headed downstairs to Penn Station to wait for a train back to New Jersey, and there was only one seat available on the bench, and it was next to a homeless woman who coughed right on me in her sleep, which prompted me to move to another part of the waiting room where I watched a man throws a McDonald’s bag into a trash can and then watched another homeless woman walk quickly over to the trash can, remove the bag — and look inside it to see if any scraps of food remained.

I wonder what the poor woman would have thought if she’d seen the extravagent, frivolous, oblivious celebration that erupted upstairs after Ch. Clussexx Three D Glinchy Glee won that Best of Show crown. All that money spent — for show tickets and Manhattan hotel rooms, on booze, on those elegant gowns, on training and breeding those perfect dogs, and, yes, the more than $100 we ourselves had spent earlier on a Cuban dinner and Italian dessert downtown in the Village — would have bought those poor women downstairs at Penn Station a safe, decent place to live and a hell of a lot of Big Macs.


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