The Westminster Dog Show is the second-longest-running sporting event in the U.S., behind only the Kentucky Derby.

Madison Square Garden, the venue for the dog show. | (Vincent Tullo)

Its very first show, a three-day event in 1877, attracted more than 1,000 canine competitors and was hailed "a magnificent triumph" by industry press at the time. Over the decades, the "Super Bowl of the dog world" has only gained in popularity, with millions of people tuning into the live multi-day event from home. And the stakes are higher than they were 140 years ago. With new breeds added each year, there are now more than 3,000 dogs competing for the title of Best in Show.

In 2016, photographer Vincent Tullo attended the 140th Westminster Dog Show. Photographing the behind-the-scenes action in stark black and white, Tullo artfully captured the triumph and the torment experienced by both the dogs and their human handlers.

"The people are far more interesting than any of the dogs," Tullo said in an interview. "There is a huge amount of tension in the room as the owners prep their dogs to go out into the spotlights of the famous Madison Square Garden."

In advance of the 2017 Westminster Dog Show, which begins Feb. 11, enjoy some of last year's doggy drama.

Participants exiting the floor of Madison Square Garden. | (Vincent Tullo)

A girl crying after finding out her dog didn't win the competition. | (Vincent Tullo)

A dog shakes its hair after being bathed backstage. | (Vincent Tullo)

Two men talking about the odds of the dog winning and if they should bet on it. | (Vincent Tullo)

An owner makes a lap around the floor of Madison Square Garden with her dog. | (Vincent Tullo)

The crowd. | (Vincent Tullo)

An owner inspects her dog. | (Victor Tullo)

An owner has a quick bite to eat while rushing to prep his dog for its round. | (Vincent Tullo)

A dog and its owner making their lap around the floor as the finalists are announced. | (Vincent Tullo)

A dog backstage waiting for its turn in the show. | (Vincent Tullo)

A dog and its handler walking in sync. | (Vincent Tullo)

**To see more from this story and others by Vincent Tullo, check out his website and Instagram.**