It has always intrigued me to see rather average examples of the more popular-to-win breeds consistently take precedence over dogs of the less popular breeds in Group and Best in Show competition. Some of these lesser-winning breeds include true greats.
This is exactly why I was so pleased to be assigned the breeds I was to judge at the Garden this year. All were from the Non-Sporting Group: American Eskimo Dogs, Boston Terriers, Chinese Shar-Pei, Keeshonden, Tibetan Spaniels, Tibetan Terriers and Xoloitzcuintli. Interestingly, although they represent what might normally be considered the less-popular-to-win-big breeds, they did in fact constitute the largest entry of the day.
Most of them were breeds that I have a lot of experience placing ahead of and behind in my previous incarnation as breeder-exhibitor of Bichons Frisés. I thought there were good ones competing back then and I know there are even better examples of those breeds now.
Two of the breeds were new to the Non-Sporting Group since the days I competed there. The American Eskimo (“Eskie”) was recognized by the AKC in 1994; the Xoloitzcuintli (“Xolo”) in 2011.
It has been my great fortune to have judged the Xolo breed over a long period of time in many parts of the world. But without a doubt there was never any greater pleasure than to be able to award the late, great all-time Mexican top winner and many-titled Ch. Tenango three of the nearly 60 all-breed Best in Shows he won during his campaign throughout the entire of Mexico, Central and South America.
The iconic Tenango was one of the dogs that impressed no matter how many of the breed one had seen. And as I told Carissa DeMilta-Shimpeno who handled the standard dog, GCh. Bayshore Georgio Armani, my Garden Breed winner, her dog was one that could step proudly alongside the great Tenango to represent the breed.
The Armani dog excels in both type and soundness. His feet and legs are unusually good for the breed and he is of ideal bone and substance. Further blessed with great attitude and presence there is no doubt he will continue to represent his owners J. Frank Baylis, Lynda Hylton, Traci Johnson and the entire new-to-North America breed well.
Best Opposite Sex was the beautifully typey miniature bitch, GCh. Chabella Mazzarella handled by Clint Livingston for breeder-owner Stephanie Mazzarella. There is no doubt the Xolo will represent formidable competition for all comers in the Non-Sporting Group.
American Eskimo Dogs
While taking photos my Best of Breed winner’s Canadian handler, Graeme Burdon, down from Canada mentioned that the win represented the fourth time his dog had won Best of Breed at the Garden! Exciting indeed, but not entirely surprising really. GCh. Nuuktok’s Atka Inukshuk, bred and owned by Sharon Robertson, is a remarkable example of the breed. Beautiful proportions, elegant arch of neck, and the hard-to-come-by tail set and carriage described in the standard.
Combine that with wonderful standoff double coat, wedge-shaped head with beautiful dark brown eyes, and ink-black pigmentation, and you have a most impressive stallion of a dog. He’s a charismatic showman that knows exactly how to strike that pose completely on his own.
Best Opposite to him was the beautifully made 3-year-old bitch, Ch. Timber’s Everhart Mi Da One, bred, owned and exceptionally handled by Tracy C. Vittetoe. This bitch was an excellent counterpart to my Best of Breed with classic proportions and matching him in balance and an outstanding headpiece. Bitches seldom carry the coat of their male brethren, but every hair on the body of this beautiful bitch glistened with quality. She’s a breeder’s dream without a doubt.
Twenty-one were in for Best of Breed competition and not a loser among them. As I’ve written in the past, the Boston Terrier breed is in outstanding shape with top-class dogs and bitches appearing repeatedly throughout the country.
My Garden Breed was topped by the almost 2-year-old Ch. Fivefork’s Geometry Matters At Kayas, handled by Ruth Rauherz for owners Adrienne Hullender and Ruth Rauherz. He was bred by Judith Queitzsch and Ronda C. Whitson. Square headed and square of body, this handsome youngster has a rock-hard topline and finished off with those “painted by God” markings. He’s the kind that clever Boston breeders should always be aiming for.
Best Opposite Sex to this class boy was Ch. Martini’s A Perfect Sip Or Two In Hi-Society, a bitch of exquisite type, blessed with a killer expression and fully aware of just how attractive she is. She complemented the Breed winner with her own beautiful eye, square shape and head, and lovely markings. A breeder’s Boston without a doubt, bred by Linda Martin and co-owned with Cynthia Davis and Sandra Chrisman.
My Best of Breed in Shar-Pei, GCh. Vaje’s Miss Jayne Hathaway, needs little introduction in that she has been a banner waver for the breed from coast to coast in the past year. Miss Hathaway is blessed with the bristle-harsh coat, “hippopotamus” muzzle shape and distinctive tiny crinkled ears that are hallmarks of the breed. She is handled by Clint Livingston for breeder-owners Jeff and Vicki Mauk.
The latter are also breeders of Miss Hathaway’s excellent half-brother, GCh. Vaje’s Cruzin To Chesapeake who was my choice for Best Opposite Sex. Jill Parslow owns him. The pair is sired by Ch. Vaje’s Crew Cut out of different dams and fine examples of what the Chinese Shar-Pei can be.
One of the joys of judging is watching a promising puppy develop into a full-blown top-class adult. This is exactly the scenario I watched unfold as Kelli Denton’s owner-handled, bang-on Keeshond GCh. Baronwood Infinity And Beyond made his ring debut at 6 months and a couple of days going Best of Breed over Specials and on to win the Non-Sporting Group the same day.
Since then he’s developed into a superb adult with a most admirable record — sound, abundantly and correctly coated with all the trappings of color and markings the standard calls for. He looks at you through those breed-defining “spectacles” with excitement and a rarin’-to-go attitude.
The Best Opposite Sex award went to Ch. Bonnyvale’s Paperback Writer By Wolfers Fortrumpet, a beautifully feminine bitch handled by her owner Beth Blankenship. This one represents her sex well both in type and soundness. Bred by Darlene Bosch and Rob and Bonnie Fowler.
“Tibbies” are a breed that teems with quality throughout the nation, and the entry at Westminster was no exception. Selecting a single dog to represent the breed was no mean feat I assure you, but GCh. Shilo Time For A Good Time caught my eye as he entered the ring and in the end walked off with the Breed laurels.
This striking 3-year-old blond boy stands out with his difficult-to-achieve ideal proportions, correct coat, and beautiful head and expression. Christopher Keith handles him for breeder-owner Shirley Carroll.
Best of Breed was pressed heavily by the beautiful bitch GCh. Wassong’s Hanover Alice, handled by Ernesto Lara for breeder-owners Patricia Sarles and Kevin Wassong, the team that has produced an outstanding array of quality for the breed. The Tibetan Spaniel is more than just a head, but it is hard to get by this gal’s face, it is so typically Tibetan.
Without a doubt the Tibetan Terrier breed abounds with quality throughout the country and it was apparent in my entry at Westminster. The breed standard offers considerable latitude with respect to size and substance, so it is up to the observer to determine within reasonable limits just what suits a dog that has been required over centuries to survive Tibet’s extreme climate and rugged terrain.
It is and should be a breed that bears no extremes of any kind; a natural dog in all respects. This figured heavily into my ultimate decision to award Best of Breed to the David Murray bred, owned and handled bitch, Ch. Players Paint A Picture.
At just 1½ years old her breed type and impressive construction made her a standout. Her neck, shoulder and front construction are exceptional for the breed and her coat texture promises even further excellence at maturity. What is so striking about this bitch is her complete state of naturalness both in the way she stands over her beautiful front and uses herself in movement.
Best Opposite Sex to Lois and Herman Goldstein’s stallion of a dog, GCh. Panchen’s Great Ball Of Fire, bred by Deborah Campanella and handled by Pam Desrosiers. This charismatic showman epitomizes the standard’s call for a dog capable of withstanding the harshest of Tibet’s climate conditions. He combines soundness, type and movement in an attractive package.
In my conversation with Tom Bradley after my judging he captured the very essence of my assignment in saying, “You never know where you’re going to find the good ones.” How true! All one needs to do is look beyond the hype and razzle-dazzle to where quality actually lies.