On Monday and Tuesday nights at Madison Square Garden, tails were impeccably groomed for the 2020 edition of the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the premiere North American dog event for purebred lovers. Thousands of people turned out to witness the vicious competition: jawlines were inspected, coats were lightly grazed, and some poor Dachshunds were forced to trot their hearts out, all in pursuit of the coveted Best In Show ribbon.

Ultimately, a regal Standard Poodle named Siba took home the big prize. But backstage, a different story unfolded, as fierce competition gave way to utterly polite chaos, soundtracked by a symphony of hair dryers. Select ticketholders, judges, and reporters from across the world all walked through a mist of hairspray in order to observe or even interact with the dogs as they prepared for their moment in the spotlight. All the attention in the room was focused on dozens of the most compliant, complacent dogs you'll ever encounter, all of whom were alternatively staring off in the middle distance or trying to steal a few moments of rest.

When you linger backstage at the show, you'll see poodles getting braided, collies getting bathed, overly-used lint rollers and abandoned bow ties. There are combs of all sizes, sparkly dresses, popcorn tubs and fluff, so much fluff you might start to question whether fluff is its own breed of dog. The owners, breeders, handlers, groomers and hanger-ons are all people who seem to exist in total harmony with the animals, to the point that it feels obvious that they would begin to resemble one another. My face hurt by the end of one evening from all the polite smiling I'd done.

You can check out photos documenting the process of dogs getting into the Westminster spirit up above, and a video of these supernaturally pampered, preternaturally chill beings staring into your soul in the video below.

Spending quality time backstage with the pups as they get ready, you walk away with a deep appreciation for every single adorable inbred animal in the house. There are no winners as far as I'm concerned, because every dog I had the privilege of petting won a gold medal in my heart. The story of the 2020 Westminster Dog Show is best told in the small, fleeting moments below, when goofy dogs approached the sublime.

I also discovered my other new favorite genre of Westminster video this year: dogs watching Westminster on TV.