As millions of us get ready to watch the SuperBowl of dogs shows next week, there will be several who boycott the show. There will be many who scoff at the thought of dogs being paraded around a ring in a “beauty pageant”. Some will call it cruel, some will call it silly and PETA will most likely do something ridiculously stupid.
Everyone here knows that I’m all for dog shows and I’m not going to go into a big long explanation of why once again this year. We all know that dog shows and show dogs have flaws but hey, so do I and so do you. Get. Over. It.
What I am going to do is tell you a little bit about some of the dogs that will be appearing at Westminster next week because even though these purebred dogs are all spruced up strutting their stuff in the ring doesn’t mean there’s not a story to go along with them.
Every Dog Has a Story.
With over 2,700 dogs entered at this years Westminster Dog Show, the largest entry in 15 years, every dog that will be there has a story and here are just 8 of those dogs and their amazing stories:
JOEY’S COMEBACK: Joey, an American Eskimo Dog, titled quickly in his show career and was retired from the ring in 2008 by his owners Sue Lunsford and Mary Ellen Eichelberger, of Santa Rosa, Calif. In December 2011 Joey was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma. Surgery and chemotherapy followed and Joey was given a prognosis of six months to live. Through prayers, lots of love, excellent nutrition and consistent exercise, the little guy is strong and healthy today. His veterinarian calls him “the miracle dog.” The owners are bringing Joey out of retirement for one final fling.
VERSATILE DOG: Steed, a Borzoi owned by G. Ariel Duncan and Ralph Jamison, of Cherry Hill, N.J., is the perfect “Gentle Giant” and a great ambassador for his breed. In addition to being a specialty and hound group winner, he is a licensed therapy dog. He has donated over a gallon of blood to help other dogs in need at the Penn Animal Blood Bank bloodmobile. . One of his at-home duties – or at least he thinks it is – is protecting the koi pond from a blue heron. The owners have been involved with the breed for 40 years.
HAIRS TO YOU: Rosita, a Xoloitzcuintli owned by Anna-Maria Barfoot, Debbie and John Caponetto, of San Antonio, is quite the diva at home, but this national and sacred dog of Mexico has a favorite job outside the home, hanging out with children undergoing the side effects of cancer, namely those losing their hair. Rosita, hairless herself, teaches them with a very loud “You can be hairless, beautiful and a grand champion, too!”
A BONDING BERNER: Juliette (Juju) is a healer and bonder. The Bernese Mountain Dog, is also a therapy dog and was part of the second therapy dog team allowed into nearby Newtown, Conn., following the ghastly killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. “Juju was asked to sit in on sessions to help ease tensions,” says the twins’ mother Lynn Meyers, a teacher. “Even just for a moment minds opened again to relay their feelings while petting Juju.” For the next month, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, either Lynn Meyers, or her husband Adam, and one of the girls drove to Newtown, five minutes away, with Juju to provide hands-on therapy for the children and parents alike either at a school during the day or therapy center at night. Now the charismatic Juju, the family’s first champion Berner, will show off her character and conformation in an entirely different venue, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
PENNY FROM HEAVEN: Penny is the most recent of her family’s Brittanys. When her best friend and co-owner, Dr. Ione A. Kourides, of New York City, became gravely ill last year, the dog never left her side, comforting and loving her 24/7. After a courageous battle with cancer, Dr. Kourides died in October. One of her fervent wishes was for her beloved Penny to compete at Westminster, and it will be happening this year in front of Kourides’ husband, Charles G. Zaroulis, and many of the late doctor’s friends.
BOUNCING BACK: CJ, a Newfoundland owned by Pamela Ruegger-Danielson and Roger Danielson, of Beloit, Wis., was paralyzed as a puppy and was adopted to become a family pet, as the breeder was uncertain about his recovery. Surprise! By the time CJ was a year old his recovery was complete and it was decided to give conformation a try. He is now 5 and is the No. 1 Newfoundland in the country.
BUBBA THE LOVEBUG: While this Bubba’s first trip to Westminster, the Dogue de Bordeaux, owned by Lauren and Sue Struzik, of North Quincy, Mass., gets around plenty. The 160-pound “sweetheart” is a therapy dog with Pets & People Foundation and regularly volunteers at Tufts Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children in Boston. He brings smiles and plenty of happiness to the young pediatric patients, and also spends time at the hospital visiting adult patients in the Cardiomyopathy Unit, some of who spend months awaiting a heart transplant. Last March, Bubba was awarded the title of Breed Ambassador (a lifetime award) by the Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America. He is featured in a Modern Molosser Magazine article entitled “The Doctor is In” and the newly released “The World of Dogues de Bordeaux book highlighting the importance of therapy dogs for hospitalized patients.
A FIRST-CLASS ASSISTANT: At 4 weeks of age, Teddie James, a Newfoundland, visited a 10-year-old cancer patient who was sent home with hospice care. The youngster had been unconscious, but when Teddie kissed her cheek she opened her eyes, says Teddie’s co-owner, Dr. Sheri Russell, of Lexington, Mass. Teddie was able to spend time with the family that day but the child died shortly after that meeting. In addition to being a grand champion, Teddie is in Russell’s sports-medicine center (she is a chiropractic sports physician and certified athletic trainer) daily. “He does more of the therapy work than I do,” says Russell.
A MIRACLE DOG: Nando, a Leonberger owned by Peter and Cathy Schneider, of Needham, Mass., and Lucie Perron, of Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, came to Perron from Germany and finished his Canadian championship quickly before heading to the U.S. in hopes of doing the same. At the Cape Cod Kennel Show in August 2011, he spotted a squirrel outside, jumped through a window, climbed a fence and a roof and escaped. He was found an hour later by a local police animal officer. While Nando was being transported back to his owners, the police received frantic cell-phone calls saying the rescue vehicle was dragging a dog down the highway. Nando, too big for police crates, had been double-tied in back, had broken one tie and pushed out the window and was being dragged. Burns jumped out and found Nando dead. He gave the dog CPR and managed to get a breath, so rushed him to a nearby emergency veterinary hospital. He was in shock with all four legs and his left side stripped of skin down to the bone. Nando survived and a lengthy rehabilitation process but not without plenty of setbacks in the first week. He was soon transported to Angel Memorial Hospital in Boston, where he was admitted in critical condition. After several surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment, Nando was ready for his first show in June 2012, where he took Best of Winners.
A TRUE FIRE DOG: Indy, a Dalmatian owned by Kathryn FC Ryan-Hogan, of Walden Spring (St. Charles), Mo., loves visiting local firehouses and participates in many community outreach programs with local fire districts. She helps teach and demonstrate fire-safety techniques to local children and through her “not-for-profit organization that raises funds to provide pet oxygen masks to first responders and fire districts in the St. Louis area, items that are not funded in local fire-department budgets. The affable Indy supports chase Away K9 Cancer by wearing a donation vest at fund-raising events. Indy loves obedience and agility practice and will likely start training alongside in horses in Road Trial – bringing her back to the basics of the Dalmatian breed as a coach dog.
I wish more people would look into what a show dog is really made of instead of judging the dog on the sport in which it is participating in. Show dogs aren’t wrapped in “bubble-wrap” in between shows. They have jobs, they get dirty, they get injured and they most certainly deserve to be at the biggest dog show of the year without criticism.
So as you watch the show next week, or not watch because you think it’s wrong but read about it all over the internet, remember that each dog has a story and what you see in the ring isn’t their whole story.
For those who are wondering when the Newfies enter the ring at Westminster, they’ll be showing on Tuesday at 9:30am in ring 6. I’ll be watching from the awesome new Westminster app available for smartphones that I just downloaded!
Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the above mentioned dogs. I did not receive or ask for permission to use any photos.