Tonawanda News

February 10, 2014

Puppy pageant shows off a dog's talents


The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Much like today’s beauty pageants, dogs now get to share their talents in addition to their good looks. Feb. 8 across this state, the Westminster Kennel Club’s first venture into agility drew its entry limit with 225 dogs for the first Masters Agility Championship. This precedes the 138th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show which will be held Feb. 10 and 11 in New York City.

The agility dogs came from 653 entry submissions and included 35 Border collies (well-known for their agility),  21 Shetland sheepdogs, 20 Papillons and 16 All American dogs (mixed breeds), with representatives from 63 breeds and 23 states.

When you add these dogs to the 2,845 entered in the All Breed Dog Show it makes it the largest entry since 1990. Founded in 1877, The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is America’s second-longest continuously held sporting event. The longest continuously help sporting event is the Kentucky Derby.  The show Feb. 10 and 11 is dedicated to showcasing the sport of purebred dogs. Although yesterdays agility championship was open to dogs competing at excellent or masters level. That included both purebred dogs and mixed breeds. The mixed breed category was significant, bringing non-purebred dogs to a Westminster event for the first time since the very earliest days of its show.

On Feb. 10, three breeds newly-recognized by the American Kennel Club will be eligible for Westminster for the first time: Portuguese Podengo Pequeno (8 entries, hound group), the Chinook (4, working group), and the Rat Terrier (20, terrier group).

The Portuguese Podengo Pequeno comes in three sizes, small (pequeno), medium (médio) and large (grande), but only the pequeno will be shown at this year’s show. They are a sight and scent hound and each size corresponds to what they would hunt for: rabbits, wild boar or deer.  They come in a smooth or wire coat and they all appear to be a golden color.

Chinooks are a light honey color to reddish-gold and were first bred to be sled dogs in New Hampshire, making them the official state dog.  New York doesn’t even have a state dog!

Despite cruel jokes the rat terrier is named for its job: not its appearance.  The Westminister Kennel Club says that rat terriers have “proven themselves to be a versatile, multipurpose breed with a playful, happy-go-lucky attitude.” They are considered easily trainable and exceptionally intelligent. They do very well in showmanship, agility, obedience, and much more. They are capable of hunting rodents and vermin above and below ground. They also make fine therapy and service dogs.

Feb. 10’s judging will include the hound, toy, non-sporting and herding groups, and will be live on CNBC from 8 to 11 p.m. Feb. 11 will include junior showmanship, sporting, working, terrier groups and best in show, which will also be live on USA from 8 to 11 p.m. Live streaming of all breed judging will be available on www.westminsterkennelclub.org and on the official 2014 Westminster Show app.

Kenny Coogan has a B.S. in animal behavior and is a certified professional bird trainer through the International Avian Trainers Certification Board. Please email your questions to kenny.coogan@yahoo.com, or search for “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook.