Get a behind-the-scenes look at her very precise grooming regimen.

By Alexandra Churchill
February 11, 2019

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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show commences today. And champion pups from all corners of the country will congregate to sit, stay, and strut their stuff in the most famous canine competition of the year.

Among the elite furry few? Martha's own Empress Qin is ready to make her debut. "She has been to many shows," says Jan Kolnik, a handler for Empress Qin. "It takes several shows to become a champion. This is her first time at Westminster." Qin is a happy-go-lucky, almost two-year-old chow chow, sister to Emperor Han and daughter to Peluche.

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Anyone who knows Martha knows her love of animals and her chows in particular. Empress Qin comes from a long dynasty of dogs that have competed at Westminster. Back in 2012, Martha's Ghenghis Khan famously won "Best in Breed" at the Westminster Dog Show. Afterwards, she brought her prize-winning pooch to the plaza for a celebratory lunch (for a feast befitting a champion, no doubt).

While a typical day for Qin might be playing with her brother and the Frenchies on Martha's farm in Bedford or snacking on cooked chicken (her favorite treat), a day at the dog show is much less about play. "During the show, she is groomed a lot, visits with a lot of people, and gets lots of attention, and, hopefully, a nap," Kolnik says. In the morning hours before the show, Qin is thoroughly brushed with a pin brush and a comb. Stray hairs are clipped, and her nails are trimmed.

This year's show takes place at Madison Square Garden where more than 2,800 dogs are reportedly expected to represent more than 200 breeds. Created by the Westminster Kennel Club, America's oldest organization dedicated to pedigree dogs, the event was first established in 1877. The dogs are judged based on their breed and then their group, which is broken into seven categories: sporting, hound, terrier, toy, and so on. Breed winners move on to the group competition where first, second, third, and fourth place is awarded to four dogs in each cateogry. The first-place winner in each group then moves on to the final round where one lucky pup earns the prestigious title of Best in Show. Will it be Empress Qin?

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