2016-12-01 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

For the last 15 Thanksgivings, the National Dog Show has followed Santa’s sleigh caboose at the end of the Macy’s Parade on TV. Millions of viewers hungrily waiting for their family feast watch two hours of NBC highlights from this prestigious dog show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Many of the dogs have great stories behind them.

The National Dog Show was filmed the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. Since 2013, my friend Mary Bloom and I have had the privilege of compiling information sheets for each Best of Breed (BOB) winner in Philly. There were 185 BOB dogs this year, but, because of time constraints, only about 30 dogs are profiled by announcers- David Frei and John O’Hurley.

We love gathering BOB information because we get to meet owners, handlers and breeders at such a joyous moment and help them share backgrounds of their fantastic dogs. Often the BOB dogs are multi-talented in performance or therapy tasks, skilled in the original jobs intended for their breed or dogs who have overcome incredible obstacles to achieve such an important win. These dogs reinforce that plenty of show dogs are much more than “beauty queens.” They are also living proof of the amazing capabilities of man’s best friend. Here are some of the best National Dog Show 2016 BOB stories:


The BOB Swissie pulls a cart for Santa in Bethlehem, PA. The BOB Swissie pulls a cart for Santa in Bethlehem, PA. Overcoming obstacles:

*When “Fidelio,” the Bergamasco, was still a pup, his owner swerved to miss a deer causing a terrible accident. Two other Bergamascos were killed, and Fidelio took off into the unfamiliar woods in fright. He was found nine days later with a fractured spine. Now at six years old, Fidelio won BOB in Philly.

*“Rattle,” a Curly-Coated Retriever, was born on the day in August 2011 when an earthquake shook Virginia. His whole litter has quake-themed name including his brother “Richter”.

*The BOB Irish Setter is known as Grand Champion Beaubriar’s Defying the Odds because she was the only puppy in her litter of 14 to survive a deadly virus.

*“Brie,” the Scottish Deerhound, lived in a 100-year-old Philly rowhouse. Her owner had been in the house 33 years with no structural problems. In the summer of 2014 while the owner was at work, her house collapsed. Another Deerhound took off and was captured by the police. Brie was trapped upstairs and eventually coaxed out, shaken but not hurt. It seems the next-door neighbor had moved in the year before, and was doing construction. Brie’s owner says photos show his house lower and coming down first, bringing hers down because of their common wall. It’s been over two years with no insurance settlement in sight.

*Of course, there has to be an Afghan Hound-triumphing despite obstacles story. “Anton,” a five-year-old Afghan won BOB at the National Dog Show the last two years, but had to wait for his spectacular show career to start. When he was younger, he chewed off his long, silky ear fringes, and it took a year and a half for them to grow back. (To be honest, I feel a groomer cutting off Afghan ear fringes without permission should be a felony. It takes so long for these to grow. Once a groomer’s assistant thought she was doing me a favor when in two snips of her scissors, she chopped off my late Afghan Alan’s luxurious ear fringes. I had a major meltdown.)

Bond between person and BOB dog:

Great caretaker and dog partnerships can accomplish wonderful things. For example:

*The winning Great Dane is a therapy dog bringing comfort to patients at a hospice.

*Santa may be trading his reindeer in for Greater Swiss Mountain dogs. “Toby,” the Swissie, lives in Bethlehem, PA. His owner is the official Santa at Christmas City in their hometown. In fact, Santa wore a red business suit with a holiday vest to the dog show. When not in the ring, Toby pulls Santa’s cart. Mr. Claus told me he has two Swissies, and if he gets six more, he can retire Rudolph’s team.

*“Oblio,” the Boerboel, does it all. His breed comes from South Africa where these 150-plus-pound Mastiffs guard farms. “Oblio” is more versatile because of the dedication of his breeder/owner Eileen Weatherbee. He’s a Canine Good Citizen (CGC). Besides show championships, he has performance titles in obedience, agility and rally. This year the gentle giant added barn hunt and nosework to his resume, plus he loves to smother kids with kisses.

Dog duos doing for others:

*Jane Bright bred the BOB Shetland Sheepdog. She also won $100,000 as a contestant on TV’s “Survivor Nicaragua.” She used her prize money to enhance the survival skill camp she founded for kids. Jane encourages junior handlers at her camp to apply for scholarships offered by dog organizations. One camper got an AKC tuition scholarship to Clemson University and is now a veterinarian specializing in canine genetics.

*“Posey” the Pyrenean Shepherd runs with her owner, helping her train for marathons. Dogs are not permitted to compete in full marathons, but Posey has the stamina to run up to 12 miles. They compete together in races benefiting autism organizations because Posey’s owner has two autistic siblings.

Commercial success stories:

*The BOB Borzoi with the pedigree name- Grand Champion Jantar Déjà vu at Majenkir posed in Wolfschmidt Vodka ads, while “Chauncey” the corded Komondor grand champion was in a Miller High Life commercial.

Just for fun:

*“Doc Holiday,” the St. Bernard, is nicknamed “Bucket Head” because when he finishes his water, he flips the bucket onto his head and stomps around his yard.

“Whiskey,” the BOB Vizsla, belongs to a jeweler. Several years ago he swallowed a bag with two carats of small diamonds and was only kind enough to return one carat the natural way. When Whiskey was entered at Westminster two years ago, we tried to get someone from Tiffany’s to judge or “appraise” him as advance press.

For Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Two tiny pets want reassurance from a loving owner that everything is going to be okay. “Poppy” 6-490 is an adorable gray and white female kitten who needs more socialization while “Tito” 16-605 is an eight-to 10-year-old Chihuahua who would do best with a Chihuahua person as his best friend.

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