Dog Sport Pioneers, Breeder Icons, Dog Show Secrets and Dog Heroes

Editor's Note, Dogs in Review May 2011

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Welcome to our May issue spotlighting the Toy and Non-Sporting Groups. If you judge, show or live with these breeds, we’ve gathered together some great reading for you.

Rick Beauchamp has tackled the latest installment of our popular breed comparisons, evaluating the Bichon FriséHavanese and Maltese. Rick’s Beau Monde prefix is synonymous with the Bichon; he was one of the pioneers of the breed in this country and worked hard to help get it recognized and established. He has judged the three breeds for decades and relished the opportunity to explain their similarities and differences to us.

Ellen MacNeille Charles is one of the great dog fanciers and sportswomen of our time. Her Hillwood prefix has been associated with fine Non-Sporting dogs for many decades… from Bichons and the occasional Tibetan Terrier to the classic Standard Poodles she breeds and campaigns today with Wendell Sammet, Karen LeFrak and Joseph Vergnetti. Ellen’s knowledge of the sport and devotion to dogs coupled with her unpretentious style give so much to the fancy. Judith Tabler, a family friend and a second-generation dog woman herself, gives us a glimpse into Ellen’s busy life in D.C.

Amy Fernandez profiles more iconic figures in our sport:  the first lady of Brussels Griffons, Iris de la Torre Bueno;  judges, authors and Dalmatian devotees Esme and Al Treen;  Amanda West, the owner-handler who racked up nearly 100 Best in Shows, more than 400 Groups and 16 consecutive Breed wins at the Garden with her French Bulldogs in the 1950s and ‘60s; and Paul Winfield, distinguished actor and Pug fancier.

When Portuguese Water Dog ‘Ladybug,’ GCh. Aviators Luck Be A Lady, charged across the fabled green carpet at Westminster this year with her handler Amy Rutherford to compete for Best in Show, it exceeded all expectations for her breeder-owners Michael and Cathy Dugan. Mike and Cathy are great role models for today’s aspiring breeder-exhibitor; they not only work harder but smarter.

By establishing goals and then putting the focus on reaching them, they have achieved the success that eludes many others. We’ve enjoyed stimulating chats at shows when our paths have crossed during Ladybug’s campaign, speaking candidly about the sport. It is a measure of their candor that they approached me about writing a series that would take the smoke and mirrors out of campaigning dogs. We launch “The 7 Secrets of Show Success” in this issue.  

Jeff Pepper writes compellingly this month about the specially trained, FEMA-certified search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers that left the US for Japan after that country’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11. Read Jeff’s stirring feature and find out what field trial and multi-Group conformation judge has another life as renowned trainer for the National Search Dog Foundation.

On a much less dramatic level, here at home flooding forced an evacuation at the Harrisburg, Pa., shows and ultimately the cancellation of the two Mason & Dixon shows scheduled for April 17-18. Karen Steinrock reports that “as torrential rains continued, dog show people leaped into action.” That should come as no surprise; our dog-show community shows a lot of heart time and time again.

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