NEW YORK -- Meg and Tank went for a little stroll in the wintry drizzle Monday, taking in the sights of midtown Manhattan.
The hot dog vendor across the street from Madison Square Garden didn't really interest these out-of-towners. They would've felt more in their element at Central Park, where the raccoons live -- that's natural for treeing Walker coonhounds.
Two weeks before the start of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at the Garden, a pair of treeing Walkers and several Russell terriers were introduced as the newest breeds to enter.
"Very excited to be here," said Curt Willis, who brought 3-year-old Meg and 10-month-old Tank from Homer City, Pa.
There will be 187 different breeds and varieties represented at the 137th Westminster event.
The treeing Walker coonhound is a hunter and gets its name for the way it chases raccoons up trees.
"They've very competitive and very gamey," Willis said. "They'd chase a squirrel into the middle of the street if they could."
Dog show judge Sharon Sakson of Pennington, N.J., held Tank at a hotel event a half-hour before the newcomers wandered outside on their leashes.
"They look like a giant beagle," she said.
With no raccoons in sight, the coonhounds started to sniff out their competition. They looked over the Russell terriers, while also baying at each other and taking a few nips at their squeaky toy.
The Russell terrier is often referred to as a Jack Russell terrier, similar to the dog Eddie popularized on the television show "Frasier." The taller Parson Russell -- with a body more square than the Russell terrier -- already is a part of Westminster.
Sue Sobel brought her Russell terriers, Meadowbrook Madison and Foxfield Pepper Patch, from her home in Long Island.
"They're extremely loyal," she said. "People love this dog. They're really spunky."
More than 2,700 dogs will compete for the title of best in show. The two-day event starts Feb. 11, with daytime breed judging now held at exhibition space at Piers 92 and 94 at West 55th Street along the Hudson River. Nighttime judging will be shown on CNBC the first day and on the USA Network the final day.
"One of the greatest things about the show is that it's accessible to everybody," new Westminster Kennel Club President Sean McCarthy said. "If you have a small terrier or a mastiff, everyone can come and enjoy it."
By BEN WALKER
AP Sports Writer