Fourteen-year-old Benny Neusner wants only one thing more than a dog: for his neglectful mother to be proud of him. He hasn't given up on impressing his mother, but a dog is out of the question. His father and stepmother will never permit it. They don't understand how lonely he is. He is not a brain like the other kids in his therapeutic school, and nothing he's tried has ever worked out for him. Benny meets Bess Rutledge, a 70-year-old woman who has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life.