Local Boy Makes Good

FOCUS ON PETS

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Champion J Luvs Schoolhouse Doodle Bug, otherwise known as Doodle, has made all of us in the Rim country very proud by winning best of variety at Westminster Dog Show in New York City last week.

This is an amazing feat for a little guy from Pine. John Mayhall, who shares a home with Doodle, is one proud papa. And well he should be. Congratulations to Doodle and John.

Very few dog owners are into the sport of dog shows. Some try it with their AKC registered dog at a local show, but find that the competition is fierce and most of the winners have professional handlers. It is not a hobby for the financially restricted. It is rather an exclusive group that goes on to compete at Westminster. Only 34 dogs from Arizona were entered this year.

Many love to watch this wonderful show. Westminster is the dog show of all dog shows. This was the 128th continuous show, making it the second longest running sporting event in the United States second only to the Kentucky Derby. Westminster Kennel Club of America was established in 1871 and is the oldest organization in this country dedicated to the sport of pure breed dogs.

The 2,500 dog entry limit for Westminster this year was reached within an hour after registration opened. Entries are by invitation. These dogs represented 62 breeds and varieties and came from the 48 contiguous states, Puerto Rico and Canada. The 42 judges came from 32 states and Canada.

Westminster is one of the few remaining benched shows in the United States, meaning that the dogs must remain at their assigned places when not in the ring -- all during the show. In early years, most shows were benched, and there were actually benches on which the dogs, usually in their crates, had to stay during the show. In most shows today, the dogs arrive in time to prepare for their class and if they do not win, they are free to leave. Spectators like to walk around, see the dogs and talk with the breeders and handlers. Those showing dogs love to visit and brag about the achievements of their dogs. It is a great way to learn the traits of the various breeds and these traits are what make each breed unique. Seeing the variety of dogs at this show does make us realize the amazing transition dogs have come through from their one common ancestor, the wolf.

A West Highland White Terrier from the Valley was a breed winner. California and New York had the highest number of entries. North Dakota had one. Three new breeds were shown this year for the first time: the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, German Pinscher and Toy Fox Terrier.

Westminster Dog Show displays the best of the best in each breed and variety. These dogs are judged on how well they meet the standard of confirmation and temperament for the breed.

Bred to perform some sort of work, their jobs range from herding sheep to sitting prettily on a lap.

The Best in Show winner at Westminster this year was Josh, a Newfoundland. It is one of the few times that a giant breed has won this coveted honor.

Josh was at Westminster last year and was a real crowd favorite. He is a sweet and happy dog.

Wonderfully sweet tempered, Newfoundlands love hard work but their specialty is water rescue. Sometimes referred to as the St. Bernard of the sea, they can stay in freezing water for hours during a rescue. They love all sorts of water and pulling games and there are competitions across the country for these events. These working breeds need to work.

During an interview with the breeder on Public Radio, she was asked if a win like this caused an upswing in demand for the breed. She stated that it definitely does, but that people need to consider all the traits of the dog before making a decision on choosing a specific breed.

She continued that a Newfie, as they are fondly called, is not the breed for a fastidious housekeeper. They drool, shed and take up a lot of space in the house, and because they are a big, powerful dog, they need good training from puppyhood. They also need exercise.

The announcers for the Westminster Dog Show do a super job of explaining the characteristics of the different breeds and their suitability for various living situations.

It is sometimes difficult to look at a dog at the Payson Humane Society and see in him the characteristics of a particular breed. Those characteristics are there, however, and do much to determine the behavior of that dog.

It is important to know how your lifestyle matches with a particular breed or combination of breeds before you adopt. A good match leads to happy dogs and happy owners.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.

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