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.
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.
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