The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is a 140-year-old annual competition that draws in over 3,000 dogs from all 50 states.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.


Held at Madison Square Garden in New York, it's a competition to essentially compare various dogs against their "breed standards," measuring and quantifying things like eye shape, tail carriage, and color.

They are also judged on merits of companionship as well as agility (a category added in 2014), and obedience (a category added this year).

If all that sounds a little weird and questionable to you, well you're not alone. The Westminster dog show is not without controversy.

Organizations like PETA have spoken out against the show and its practices, which, they argue, can be unnatural and harmful to dogs.

But still, the show goes on.

This year, seven new dog breeds have become eligible to compete.

The seven new eligible dog breeds in 2016. Photo by Eduardo Muno Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images.

According to officials, that's the most breeds to have been added to the competition since 2000.

Before you see them prancing down the felt runway on Feb. 16, you can get a first look here:

1. The Spanish Water Dog

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.

Originally bred in Spain, they were versatile farm dogs herding sheep and goats and also acting as loyal companions to farmers and fishermen and women. They excel in training because of their loyalty and eagerness to please.

2. The Miniature American Shepherd

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

Bred in the American west in the 1960s, the miniature American shepherd is a highly active farm dog. It comes in several different colors and is incredibly versatile.

3. The Lagotto Romagnolo

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

This curly guy is the world's foremost truffle hunter. Which means exactly what you think it means. The breed has a storied career searching through forests to find delicious (and expensive) truffles deep underground. Its curly coat keeps it warm in the winter and protects it from thorns and brambles.

4. The Cirneco dell'Etna

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

This Anubis lookalike is affectionate, friendly, and an amazing hunter of small mammals. Its short hair makes grooming minimal and it's an excellent family dog.

5. The Boerboel

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

Originally developed in South Africa, these bruisers are reliable, intelligent, and strong watchdogs. They're protective, fearless, and reasonably social — though not the dog for everyone.

6. The Berger Picard

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

Star of the film "Because of Winn Dixie," this medium-sized pup is perfect for families, as it is people oriented and loyal. According to Westminster officials, it's one of the oldest French herding breeds.

7. And, finally, the Bergamasco

Photo by Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images.

This unmistakable sheepdog is an ancient breed from the Italian Alps. Its unique dreadlock-esque coat is hypoallergenic and non-shedding. It's also thick and protective, while still soft to the touch.

All these breeds are unique, beautiful, and charming. But here's the thing...

The language used to describe these new Westminster eligible breeds is a little off-putting, to say the least. Learning about where dogs were "developed" or "invented," or what colors they "come in," or what they can be best used for: it feels like you're reading about used cars or iPhones — not living animals.

Some critics of dog breeding take it a step further. PETA routinely protests the dog show, arguing that the propagation and celebration of purebred dogs adds to the millions of dogs who die in shelters every year. Many more have argued that professional breeding leads to the deaths of shelter dogs and contributes to the staggering pet overpopulation problem.

A protester who interrupted 2010's Westminster dog show with a sign that read "Mutts Rule." Photo via nyatheart/YouTube.

And then there are the alleged health problems that come with essentially inventing new animals bred for cuteness or toughness or some specific look. Pugs and bulldogs are often cited as animals that have been bred for their aesthetic qualities but have experienced crippling health defects.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

All this is to say that dog breeding is ... a little weird, when you think about it.

The Westminster dog show claims to love all dogs equally. But it's not hard to see how placing value on one breed over another based on specific physical attributes genetically engineered into it by humans, sometimes to the detriment of the breed's overall health, not to mention proclaiming one breed to be "the best" each year, could be causing problems for all the non-purebred dogs in shelters who need loving homes too.

So whether or not you watch the dog show, take a minute to consider how the dogs in the show are portrayed and treated. There's no doubt their owners love them and, sure, the dogs in the show are probably happy. They're dogs! (And they've been bred that way!)

The important thing to remember is this — if you're looking to get a dog, consider all breeds. Check out your local shelter too. Dogs of every breed need a home, and I can guarantee you'll love them all equally.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less
Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

Keep Reading Show less