2018-02-21 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Results of the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show have entered the record books. You probably know Flynn, a Bichon Frise won Best In Show last week.

But, there is much more than a winner or competition within Westminster. The show and its 142 year run is a celebration of all dogs throughout our history and culture. There is much more behind the more than 3.000 dogs entered this year than their records and show rankings.

Each dog has a story- be it one of a special name, survival, heroism, performance titles, talent, doing the job its breed was refined to do, a quirk or the tight bond between pups and their people. For the last eight years, it’s been my job as a member of the Westminster press crew, to find the best dog stories at the show from the more than 3,000 dogs entered which includes agility and obedience dogs as well as the conformation (show) dogs.

This list categorizes some of the best stories. If the dog profiled also happened to win Best of Breed, the letters BOB will appear before the dog’s breed:


Lucy the Borzoi from Japan getting ready for her 3rd WKC Best In Show judging. Lucy the Borzoi from Japan getting ready for her 3rd WKC Best In Show judging. *Tails of Survival: An Irish Setter named Kibbie defied the odds. A virus killed all but two puppies in his litter of 16, and he went on to compete at Westminster. Jefe a mixed breed (All American) competing in agility was dug out and rescued from under a CA house with his littermates when four weeks old. In 2016 Scrappy a Toy Fox Terrier was an orphan puppy, the lowest birth weight of the litter at 1.8 pounds. Scrappy was bottle fed every two hours 24/7 for four weeks.

Surf a Sheltie and 4 of his littermates competed at Westminster. All 5 have earned their MACHs (Master Agility Championship). Surf is a miracle dog having survived surgery that removed 75% of his small intestine despite the vets giving him low odds. He not only survived but is thriving. Meanwhile, Bear a 12-year-old Australian Shepherd in agility is a 30 month cancer survivor.


Sasha a Tibetan Mastiff has been mistaken for an escaped lion when he’s walked near the Seattle Zoo. Sasha a Tibetan Mastiff has been mistaken for an escaped lion when he’s walked near the Seattle Zoo. *Hero Dogs: In October 2015 Tomi a Shiba Inu saved his Hicksville owner when her house was on fire in the middle of the night. He smelled the smoke enveloping her second-floor bedroom, jumped hard onto the bed, pounced on her and then kept slamming his 25-pound body into her face. He also has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. Tomi has been entered in Westminster the last three years.

Derringer a Brittany can sense when his owner’s diabetic son has high blood sugar. He will lick him until someone notices. Gordon the BOB English Cocker is a certified therapy dog. Each week he wears costumes and visits residents at two nursing homes. He had a group of elderly fans in each facility planning to “stay up late” so they could watch their Ramsey compete in the Sporting Group finals.

*Climb Every Mountain: Gracie a Cavalier in agility hikes with her family. She even climbed Mt. Washington, and it’s uncertain whether she got the familiar souvenir bumper sticker.

Norman the BOB Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a true Mountain Dog, living and hiking every day in the Wasatch Mountains outside Salt Lake City, Utah. Norman has two working pack dog titles, earned by packing up to 30 percent of his body weight. That’s 39 pounds for this 130-pound guy for up to 10 miles at a time. Marquis the BOB Bernese Mountain Dog and his owner’s son hike up the ski slopes in Colorado after they close for the day. Then they ski down with Marquis running and barking behind the young man.

*Helping their Best Friends: Boo the BOB Leonberger is a therapy dog doing double duty. He visits elementary classrooms so students can read to him, and is also a hospice dog comforting people in hospitals and in their homes. Max a Westie from Locust Valley brings joy to clients at the Cerebral Palsy Center on LI.

A Cavalier named J. B (CH Ranlyn’s Diamonds Are Forever) where J. B. stands for “James Bond” works at a nursing home with folks with disabilities who want to transition back into the community; while Mac a Mastiff from MA visits veterans and participates in K-9s for Kids.

*Doing What They Were Bred to Do: Slick the Border Collie contender for Best In Show will be going home to resume herding ducks and sheep. Tucker a Flat-Coated Retriever is the ultimate water dog. In addition to hunting, he is a Dock Diving Senior jumper and avid sailor. He can stand on a paddleboard. Tucker has a Canine Good Citizen title too.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs originate as livestock guarding dogs in the Mid East. BOB winner “Ates” (GCHS CH Karaboudjan’s Bonfire Of The Vanities) has a call name which means “fire” in Turkish. When not showing, this giant dog protects his CA property from coyotes.

*Year of the Dog: Dogs traveling from Asia did quite well at Westminster this year. My favorite contender -Lucy the Hound Group winning Borzoi was in the Best In Show line-up three years in a row. She will be retiring to her home in Japan because her family misses her. A Pomeranian from Korea won BOB in NYC while our Olympic athletes were winning medals in Korea.

The BOB Chow named “Green” (for reasons unknown to his handler) arrived from China as did a Bulldog named Wilson who won 30 Best In Shows there even though Bulldogs aren’t a native Chinese breed.

*Cute Quirks: Stewart a Pointer from Ontario leaps in the air when you sing “Happy Birthday” or “Oh, Canada”. Rocky the Cairn Terrier takes cat food out of the cabinet to share with his furry friends. Brady a Samoyed loves the TV show “This Is Us”, and barks when it is over.

Sasha is a super star I met in the

New Yorker Hotel lobby. It was Sasha’s fourth time at Westminster, winning Best of Breed twice. In 2013, “Entertainment Weekly” named Sasha the best “hair” in the show. He has a huge “comb-over”. Sasha lives near the Seattle Zoo, and has given the zookeepers a scare a time or two, thinking one of their lions had escaped.

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