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Morning News

Announcer Joe Garagiola Discusses Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Aired February 12, 2001 - 9:51 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's known as the most prestigious canine event in America. The annual Westminster Kennel Club Show opens today at New York's Madison Square Garden. For the next two days, 2,500 canines will compete for the Best In Show trophy. About 17,000 people are expected to watch it in person each day; another 4 1/2 million will watch it on television. And they will do that with the help of a host, who we all know very well.

Joining us now to discuss the canine competition is Joe Garagiola, baseball star, baseball star announcer, and now dog expert of sorts. Joe joining us from New York.

Good morning, good to have you with us.

JOE GARAGIOLA, WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW HOST: Good morning, Daryn. And thanks for calling me an expert because I'm really not. I know nothing about dogs except that I love them.

KAGAN: Do you have any?

GARAGIOLA: I had poodles, and the last two were Yorkies, but tough day when the vet says to you, you got to leave it there. And then we lost Sweetie. She was getting old and we never let her out of the house. But she got out and we found her in the pool.

KAGAN: Oh, no.

GARAGIOLA: So I don't want to go through that right now.

KAGAN: Yes. No, anybody who's had to put an animal down knows how difficult that can be.

GARAGIOLA: Yes.

KAGAN: On a happier note, talking about tonight's event, you're -- being a longtime sports guy, is this one a sport? A sport or not a sport?

GARAGIOLA: Well, David Fry (ph) calls them athletes and I always say, David, I have yet to see a dog hit a ball or catch a football, so I don't know. They have to be in good shape, yes. You can call anything a sport if you want. I call it enjoyment. I can't wait to the see 2,500 champions, be it the canine variety or human beings, but just to see 2,500 champions is a thrill. And then we got the two new ones: that Jack Russell terrier; and then my favorite I know has to be Spinone Italiano. That's the new one, the new breed.

KAGAN: What is a Spinone Italiano? It sounds like something I would order for desert at an Italian restaurant.

GARAGIOLA: That would be an entree, a name like that. But I can't wait to see it, Daryn. I'll tell you the truth, I don't know. I'm going to go to the Garden this afternoon and kind of check them out.

KAGAN: So you get kind of a preview?

GARAGIOLA: Well, I love to talk to the trainers, the handlers, the owners, and different things intrigue me: why a guy would buy a $900 suit and put four pounds of calf liver in his pocket to feed the dog. That always is intriguing to me.

KAGAN: Do you know if any certain breed has an edge for Best in Show?

GARAGIOLA: I don't think they have an edge because they're champions. I have -- one of the questions I'm going to try to get an answer to is, do you scout judges? I mean, if I have a terrier, do I just take my dog to a show where I know a judge leans towards terriers so I can make my way to Westminster? Once you get here, it's like the World Series. I mean, you can't do anything. You got to be a champion to win.

KAGAN: And you're talking about the most serious of dog enthusiasts at a show like this. And, you know, this year there was the movie "Best In Show." Christopher Guest put it together. I think we have a little clip from that. Let's go ahead and watch that.

GARAGIOLA: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BEST IN SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Now, what is that? That's a bloodhound, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I think this is a tremendous dog. And I would say maybe in two to three years this could be a champion dog. But I just think it may be a tad immature for this year.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Just trying to get a little playing time in.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Take your dog down in back for me please.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Now, Joe, right there we happen to conveniently pick a little clip that made a little bit of fun of the announcers there.

GARAGIOLA: Oh, yes.

KAGAN: Have you had a chance to see the movie?

GARAGIOLA: I saw the movie. I think Fred was playing me. I think he used some lines I wouldn't use, but he's a funny guy and, hey, we all have our tastes. I didn't particularly like the show. I thought the satire went over the top.

KAGAN: So you'll stick to the real thing?

GARAGIOLA: Well, Westminster is the real thing. It's apples and oranges. It's like science fiction, you know. It's like trying to compare a Disney movie to a real serious movie.

KAGAN: And real quick, I know there's so many famous breeds there. I happen to be the owner of a -- affectionately known as a mutt from the pound. Any room for Darla Louise (ph) at Westminster, Joe?

GARAGIOLA: For a mutt?

KAGAN: Yes.

GARAGIOLA: Got to be a purebred champion. I'm sorry, but, hey, you got to love that mutt, because that's all a dog wants: a chance to love you.

KAGAN: She's a champion in my heart, absolutely.

Joe Garagiola, have a great show. Thanks for stopping by.

GARAGIOLA: Thank you.

KAGAN: Good to see you.

GARAGIOLA: Thank you.

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