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First Timer and Repeat Champ Emerge at Westminster

Everyone at Westminster Kennel Club has years of experience, they were born into money, the dogs are carted around as show animals and never get to enjoy life, right?

On the contrary: this is what I took away from the Garden Green where I attended the Westminster Kennel Club 137th Annual dog show these past few days in New York City.

A First Time for Everything

Joyce Killinger never had a dog. She had 4 kids and those children wanted a pet. They knew they wanted a smart dog, one that was medium in size, not a drooler, and not a huge exercise need. Narrowing her focus, Joyce settled on the first dog in her life with a Tibetan Terrier, which is not a terrier at all. Tibetan monks kept these dogs in their care nearly 2,000 years ago for good luck charms. Little did Killinger know that good luck would enter her life courtesy this pint-sized canine friend.

In October of 2004, Tashi entered Killinger’s life. As her first dog, she was smitten with this pooch. She ebbed into showing the dog, then evolved into handling classes, and soon, Tashi, aka GCH CH Moonrize Doubleshot Espresso RN. He is a grand champion, and he was Killinger’s first—and only.

And on Monday, February 11, 2013, Tashi took to the Garden Green. This was her first dog, her first time into the show ring, her first time at Westminster, and she had a grand time.

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance for a first timer, I asked why the handlers don some of the apparel we see as they parade their pooches for the judges’ handling. “The outfit should contrast with the dog yet complement him as well,” Killinger says.

A member of the Herding group, the first Tibetan Terrier was imported to the United States in 1956. He is keen on his watchdog abilities, competitive titles and agility level. The Tibetan Terrier is actually a herding dog and classified as such by AKC standards. Though a first timer on many counts, Killinger plans to continue working with Tibetans.  

Repeat Victory

Across the benching area, Grand Champion Nuutok's Atka Inukshuk is celebrating a repeat victory. Unlike Killinger, Canadian Sharon Robertson knows the sweet taste of repeat wins. With his fifth consecutive win at the Garden, this North American Eskimo dog knows a thing or two about marking his spot in dog show history.

GRCh. Nuutok's Atka Inukshuk was the Westminster Best of Breed winner for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and now 2013. He is the first American Eskimo in CKC to achieve an all breed best in show, so Robertson has reason to beam when approached for an interview.

The American Eskimo is a Nordic-type dog in the Non-Sporting dog category, which is basically a catch all for breeds that do not fit into any other specific category. According to the American Kennel Club, the Eskie, as they are affectionately dubbed, requires daily exercise, has a coat that needs to be brushed and bathed regularly, and their voluminous coat is known to shed.

As I walked amongst such grand champions, the fur flying and the brushes being put to use, an aura of champion seemed to envelop the room. There is something special about walking with such champions who are setting the breed standard with their every movement, line, and judgment.

Sitting in the media area at Madison Square Garden, the crowd fixated on the dozens of dogs who strutted their stuff as record holder royalty, one could not help but feel goose bumps as the lights came down and the leashes came out.

Did you watch the Westminster Kennel Club and if so, who is/was your favorite?

Carol Bryant

Carol Bryant

"A dog lover of the highest order,” is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant when she and her Cocker Spaniel appeared on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. She is founder of her own canine-centric magazine-style dog blog, Fidose of Reality, fidoseofreality.com.

Read Carol Bryant's Full Bio