It Takes a Touch of Magic
Winners unite showmanship and spirit in perfect proportion.
Sue Jeffries |
Posted: Sat May 26 00:00:00 PDT 2001
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Dorothy Collier of Fort Lee, N.J., who judged Best in Show in 1997, recalled her thoughts as she chose Ch. Parsifal Di Casa Netzer, a Standard Schnauzer from Italy, for top honors. "I felt he not only was an excellent specimen of the breed, but the dog never took a wrong step. What it comes down to is showmanship on the part of the dog and the coordination between the dog and the handler.
"I sensed that there was a real rapport between the handler and the dog," she said. "They both had the attitude of winners that night."
The annual cost for campaigning a top winnershowing every weekend all over the countryeasily can run more than $100,000, including handling fees, travel expenses, entry fees and heavy advertising in myriad dog publications every month.
For many breeds, conditioning involves road work or indoor exercise on a treadmill. Grooming can take many years to master with a heavily coated breed, such as a Cocker Spaniel or Poodle. The long-coated, low-to-the-ground breeds such as the Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier require nearly constant coat conditioning. "It's a labor of love," Hogg said.
Sometimes a dog comes along with such a bright future that a wealthy fancier will provide financial backing, either on a co-ownership basis or an outright purchase or lease. "We call these people hobby owners," said Hogg, who showed many top winners for the late Robert Koeppel, a New York lawyer. "They like to be involved in the dog game and enjoy giving a good dog the opportunity to seek its own level for the betterment of the breed."
While many owners successfully compete in the ring with their own dogs, most top winners are shown by professional handlers who ordinarily board, condition and groom the dogs, enter them in shows and completely care for them until the dogs' show careers end.
"Pa," as 1997's Best in Show Schnauzer is known, was piloted by Doug Holloway, a professional handler from Newark, Del. His wife, Rita, is co-owner with the dog's breeder, Gabrio Del Torre of Milan, Italy. Pa was brought to the United States when he was only 16 months old after winning numerous titles in Europe.
"He and I just fell in love with each other," said Holloway, who is typical of many successful handlers who have built a lucrative business showing dogs and having fun along the way. They spend a lot of time with their charges developing a special relationship.
Joe Gregory of Simpsonville, Ky., spent 20 years handling and now has more than 32 years of judging experience. Gregory, who has a laid-back Will Rogers attitude, is one of the most popular all-breed judges in the sport and spends nearly every weekend judging all over the country. He also likes to recall some of the tricks of the trade he used in handling.Page 1 | 2 | 3
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