Once a dog breed has met the criteria and been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are eligible to compete in the king of dog shows, Westminster. The 2015 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will debut two new breeds, one known as the royal dog of Madagascar, and a hunting breed from Hungary; this will increase the breeds shown at Westminster to 180.
Coton de Tulear
Pronounced coe-TAWN day two-LEE are, this rare breed originated on the island of Madagascar. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar lies off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean where sailors, traders, slave traders and pirates were frequent visitors. The breed’s name means “cotton of Tulear” which comes from their long cotton-like coat and the port city of Tulear where the dog began.
The Coton de Tulear is a member of the Bichon family of dogs, and early ancestors of the breed traveled with Spanish explorers in the 1400s and 1500s, working as ship ratters and providing companionship for sailors. The coastal city of Tulear was an important trading port and a favorite stopping place for pirates who found shelter and provisions in the city.
The American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous group is where a breed goes to wait to be officially recognized. Once a breed is AKC recognized, it is eligible to be shown at the Westminster Dog Show. Three recently recognized breeds are ready to strut their stuff at the 2014 Westminster show February 10-11.
When gold was discovered in Alaska in the 1880s, Arthur Treadwell Walden left his home in New Hampshire and headed to Alaska. He found work hauling freight by dog sled, and his favorite lead dog was a Husky mix named Chinook. Walden was hooked on sled dogs, but after returning home, he was disappointed with the sled dogs he found in the New England area. So he decided to create a new breed. Walden bought a female Greenland Husky from Admiral Peary and bred her with a Mastiff mix. Three tawny yellow pups were born, and named Rikki, Tikki and Tavi. One pup’s name was later changed to Chinook, in honor of the lead dog he had in Alaska. Chinook is the foundation dog for the breed.
For most families, the holiday season is about tradition. One tradition many dog lovers look forward to every year is the National Dog Show. I recently sat in on a media conference call with David Frei, Director of Communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, and Mary Carillo, retired tennis pro and dog lover who reports behind the scenes of the benched competition. David and Mary discussed what’s new for this year’s National Dog Show.
November 22 is the 11th year for the National Dog Show, which draws around 20 million viewers every year. The dog show is only one of six where the public is allowed to mingle with the pets, handlers and groomers for an “up close and personal” look at what goes on to get the dogs ready for competition.
Treeing Walker Coonhound
If you’re in the Philadelphia area, you can take in the show first hand November 17 – 18 at the Expo Center in Oaks, PA. You can check out the contestants in the bench area, talk to their owners/handlers, and enjoy demonstrations by canine athletes showing off their mad skills in Freestyle Flying Disc and Diving Dog. Two new breeds, the Russell Terrier and the Treeing Walker Coonhound, will be introduced this year at the show. This brings the number of dog breeds officially recognized by the American Kennel Club up to 175.
A new therapy dog ambassador team will be introduced this year at the National Dog Show. Li’l Abner and Stella are Dogues de Bordeaux, and Vivian is a Staffordshire/Boston Terrier mix. They will be walking in the footprints of two very special therapy dog ambassadors who passed away earlier this year. Eli, a Belgian Sheepdog, was at ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. He also worked with troubled teens and was part of David Frei’s Angel on a Leash organization. Eli died on April 11, just weeks before his 13th birthday. He was owned by Sherry Hanley.
After a dog has won top honors at the most prestigious dog show in the world, what else is there left to accomplish? A win at the Westminster Dog Show is the highlight of any show dog’s career and most winners are ready to kick back and retire from the ring, but not all of them. Here’s what a few past Westminster champions have been doing since their big win.
Rufus the colored Bull Terrier, 2006 winner
Ch. Rocky Top’s Sundance Kid, better known as Rufus, the colored Bull Terrier, made Westminster history when he delighted the crowd and won Best in Show. Rufus retired after his crowning as the 100 year dog and the only colored Bull Terrier to win at Westminster. However, he isn’t a canine to sit back on his haunches and while away his retirement years. When his owner, Barb Bishop, saw that he was getting bored, she decided he needed a job. Rufus is now a certified therapy dog, giving comfort to people in nursing homes and hospitals. He is also an ambassador for bully breeds, teaching children about responsible dog ownership, and educating people about breed specific legislation and myths about the bully breeds.
James the English Springer Spaniel, 2007 winner
Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim was a therapy dog beginning at the age of seven months. After retiring from the dog show ring, he simply picked up where he had left off. Owner Teresa Patton and James worked with Angel on a Leash, as well as other pet therapy organizations. He also helped raise around $15,000 participating in memory walks for the Alzheimer’s Association. After winning at Westminster, James went on to finish four rally titles and won his first obedience title. Sadly, James passed away in May 2011 from lymphoma. He was one of the oldest Springer Spaniels to win at Westminster.
Uno the Beagle, 2008 winner
Ch. K-Run’s Park Me in First went on a nationwide tour with David Frei, Westminster’s famous announcer and founder of Angel on a Leash, as an ambassador to help promote canine therapy work. Uno was a busy Beagle and tossed out the first pitch at baseball games, put in appearances at art galleries and charity fundraisers, rode on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float, turned on purple and gold lights at the Empire State Building for the 2009 Westminster Week celebrations, and was an honored guest at the White House. Now, Uno is happy being just a dog, hanging out with his best friend Caroline Dowell, playing with his canine buddies, and snoozing on Caroline’s bed.
This year, the National Dog Show will celebrate its 10th anniversary. The televised dog show has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition along with the Macy’s parade. What better way to spend the holiday than surrounded by family and friends as you enjoy a fun filled afternoon of marching bands and floats, good food and lots of great dogs.
I was invited to attend a phone press conference last week that included David Frei and Mary Carillo. David is the Communications Director for the Westminster Dog Show, and Mary is a retired tennis pro turned sports broadcaster. David is hosting the National Dog Show this year, and Mary is the featured reporter and commentator.
The National Dog Show is one of only six dog shows where the public is invited to go behind the scenes to meet the dogs and talk with their handlers and groomers. The show draws the top ranked dogs and this year’s entries will be close to 2,000 dogs. Dog lovers can see firsthand how show dogs are prepped for the big stage. Around 20 million dog loving viewers tuned in to watch last year’s show.
Most people have heard of the traditional AKC Dog Conformation show, but have you ever heard of the International Dog Show that takes place in the U.S.? The International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA) is an independent organization that offers the same ring procedures as the other organizations but with the European-style flavor of providing all dogs with a written critique against the breed standard. There are both American (AKC) and International judges at every show, including judges from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Puerto Rico and Sweden.
The IABCA began more than twenty years ago with the intent of making the International Title available to the American public without having to expose dogs to the dangers and inconvenience of international travel.
I attended my first show recently and was very pleased with it. The show runs as a typical dog show with the same ring process. However in addition, during each show personalized attention is given to each exhibitor by the judge and a full written critique of your dog is received encompassing 12 different parts of his body and movement. The judges take time to explain what they see in each dog. It provides a nice relaxed atmosphere too.
When working toward an International or National Title, the dog is judged against the breed standard and rated. The rating of each show will count towards the title. In turn the rating will determine the title your dog will receive. There are both puppy and adult titles available. During each show there are Class winners and a Best of Breed winner that moves on to Best in Show.
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