Success in Show Dogs

Calgary — A Bit More Than Stampedes

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Even though Calgary is as much North as it is West, for me it has always conjured up images of cowboys, bronco bustin’ and, of course, the iconic Calgary Stampede. Every July the Stampede brings in tourists from around the world to enjoy the spectacular parade, rodeos, chuckwagon races, midway, shows and all things western.

Thus, it isn’t surprising that the uninitiated might think of Calgary as not much more than an overgrown cattle town. Not so, my friends, most definitely not so! Calgary is also upscale al fresco restaurants, designer boutiques and great hotels, to say nothing of the marvelous weather and myriad of outdoor sports and water activities available to every interest. 

All this and a dog show, too. What more could one ask? And not just your everyday little doggie get-together in the park — not by a long shot! With 170 dogs a day, plus Groups, specialties, and Bests in Show, it was clear to all of us on the panel that the Alberta Kennel Club’s four-day cluster was Canada’s largest outdoor show — and one of the most important shows of the year.

For years Alberta’s stellar event was brought together by the two ladies affectionately known throughout Canada as  “the two Marys,” Mary Driscoll and Mary Woodward. Sadly, Mary Driscoll passed away in 2006, leaving Mary Woodward to head the monumental task of staging this outstanding show. This year’s show was a tribute to the late Mary Driscoll. We are certain that her loss is felt throughout the membership of the club but we are just as sure that the Lady Woodward will carry on as she has through the years without a flaw.

International panel
Dorothy Macdonald, Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine, Norman Patton and I joined the club’s always international panel which this year included Spain’s Carlos Fernandez-Renau, Annika Ullltviet-Moe from Sweden and the Aussies Marie Merchant and Denise Jacoby, as well as Canadians Tom Nesbitt and Darle Heck. The group provided what proved to be a panel of impressive and knowledgeable opinions.

Specialties took place on Friday and it was my pleasure to judge the Foothills Gazehound Specialty, where the excellent and very young Canadian-bred Ibizan Hound bitch Ch. Amahte’s Stand By Me (Am. Ch. Wirtu’s Norcal Dude In Eden x Am. Can. Ch. Wishsong’s Na Mho Rheghan) won Best in Show with her beautiful Ibizan type and, as Bo Bengtson once put it, “wonderful, weird, soaring movement.” All too often Sighthounds of otherwise fine type are given short shrift by their handlers, who choose to show them as though they  were German Shepherds.

Also worth special mention was my Best Gazehound Puppy in Show, the not-yet-1-year-old Greyhound, Windrock Blue Sky Morning (Windrock Viva Las Vegas x Am. Ch. Windrock Mamma Mia, bred by Colin and Kim Fritzler). Those who know the Greyhound breed know full well that the most that can be accomplished with Greyhound puppies, especially male Greyhound puppies, is to keep them on the end of the lead with hopefully two feet on the ground (four being much too much to hope for!). This youngster is the rare exception — elegant lines, beautiful angles, sound as they come, and he can also move (when he wants to!). Owner Sheila Ehmann will have lots of fun with this one.

Saturday was the first day of the all- breed shows and my assignment was all Terriers and the Group that proved to be the most formidable of the weekend.  Group competition provided a host of  exciting and challenging choices with my first place going to the flinty little Scotsman, Am. Ch. Charthill Empire Maker — the Crufts, World Show and U.S.-winner that actually  was in the Open Class at this event seeking his Canadian title. Geoff Dawson handled and had the the Scottie in superb condition and showing to perfection.

Second in the Group went to Canada’s current top Terrier, the Sealyham Can. Am. Ch. Efbe’s Merci Pour Le Poivre, handled by Shannon Scheer. This Sealy is a litter brother to the current U.S. Terrier star, Ch. Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice. The spectacular pair was bred by Canadian France Bergeron and Margery Good.

Also providing imposing competition was my third place in the star-studded Group, another impressive homebred of Don Emslie and Tim Doxtater — the Miniature Schnauzer Ch. Annfield Turn Turn Turn.

Rounding out this very strong Group was Mike Macbeth’s Dandie Dinmont Terrier Ch. Glahms Golden Flame, who impressed considerably in the capable hands of Raymond Yurick. All those important Dandie curves and in the hard-to-get right places!

Empire Maker went on to represent the excellent Terrier Group well by scoring Best in Show under Tom Nesbitt that night, as well as winning Group First on Monday under Norm Patton.

The second of the all-breed shows on Sunday dawned sunny and bright but cool enough to provide a pleasant day of judging. Annika Ulltveit-Moe began U.S.-bred Irish Setter Am. Can. Ch. Rusticwood Airtight Alibi’s climb to Best in Show by awarding him the Breed and Group. Handled by Heidi Gervais, the beautifully presented and typey Irish currently leads the Sporting Group in Canada. His Best in Show win that evening was under Australian judge Marie Merchant.

Monday saw the striking Canadian-bred and owner-handled Doberman Pinscher bitch, Ch. Jurassik Miss Saigon, pass through the hands of Marie Merchant in the Breed and Annika Ulltveit-Moe in the Group to appear under me for the weekend’s final Best in Show. ‘Kyoto’ was Top Dobe and Number 5 among all breeds in Canada in 2005, temporarily retired to raise 10 (that’s right 10!) puppies in 2006 and returned to the ring in 2007 with multiple Bests in just a few outings.

Breeder-owner Kim Boucher shows Miss Saigon as we wish all dogs could be shown — at the end of a loose lead with no stacking, twisting or assistance. What you see is what you actually get. The bitch is stunning in silhouette, clever on her feet and sound as a dollar. The attractive Ms. Boucher and her lovely bitch created the ideal picture as my Best in Show winners.

Around the Rings
Regardless of how long I continue to judge I am quite confident that I will never get over wanting to see who is breeding what and who the youngsters are that are coming on. Whenever I have breaks between breeds I always make it a point  to see as many of the breeds I am not judging as possible just to make sure I haven’t  missed any  of the “wonderful ones.” Some I was particularly impressed with included the going-on 8-year-old veteran Irish Water Spaniel Can. Am. Ch. Mystic Torin CD, was back in the ring with Shaunna Bernardin and looking like a puppy. Without a doubt one of the most eye-catching rare breeds I’ve seen in years is Karen Ibbitson’s liver German Long-Haired Pointer, Ch. Lukas V Malhaven, FDJ. Now if they could all look like that! Hillary Oaks was out with still another top-notch young English Setter. This one, Ch. Sevenoaks Driftwind El Diablo, is a male out of one of my longtime favorites, Am. Can. Ch. Sevenoaks Sorceress. I saw a very impressive entry of Cardigan Welsh Corgi class bitches, the Breed topped by Am. Ch. Phi-Vestavia Goody Goody with RWB going to the excellent Bred-by bitch, Toshay’s Butterfly. Both are sired by Am. Can. Ch. Shadowalk Trademark. Graeme Burdon has a very exciting new Bearded Collie special, Ch. Strathearn’s Hart And Soul, bred and owned by Tom and Ann Dixon. This one has that correct flat, harsh outer coat that is so hard to come by. Adam Bernardin gave Airedale fanciers a treat by  showing Am. Ch. Joval’s Angel Kiss on the weekend. She is the Crufts Best of Breed winner and daughter of the all-time top U.S. winner, Ch. Evermay’s High Performance. The Australian-bred Afghan Hound, Ch. Kjavu Scoobie Doo, made a clean sweep of the Breed wins on the weekend with two Group Firsts for good measure.

The Keri Campbell and Nancy Anstruther’s bred-and-owned Rough Collie bitch, Ch. Tallywood Transcendental, was my Herding Group winner on one of the days. With outrageous type and real herding dog movement, Transcendental is one I’d own in a heartbeat. She reminded me why Collies were my first love in purebred dogs. Good to see the Knowles-and-Huber-owned Bernese Mountain Dog, Am. Can. Ch. Swisskiss He’s A Sweet Talker, in prime-time condition. He’s added considerably to his Best in Show record since my having given him his first at Tyee KC a year ago. The top-winning bitch, Am. Can. Ch. Stevenstars-N-Jems Crown Royal, has a high place among my all-time favorite Boxers and now her son, Am. Can. Ch. Jems Rock the House, is carrying his beautiful dam’s banner as Number 1 in Canada. Good to see the Bain- and-Caissley-owned Havanese Ch. Havntyme El Vengador do so well on the weekend — all four Breeds and the Group under Norm Patton. This one reminds me so much of the top-quality dogs that abounded before the breed was “reinvented.”

Of course there’s more, but for another time...

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