WESTMINSTER – NOT JUST A KENNEL CLUB, By Ed Gilbert, Jr.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show held its Annual Press Conference on Thursday, February 5 at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania as the famed event prepared for its 133rd competition on Feb. 9 and 10, 2009.
David Frei celebrated his 20th anniversary as the host and voice of Westminster by introducing the special guests and previewing the event at the Press Conference. Westminster Dog Show is New York City’s oldest sporting tradition, established in 1877. Westminster was the first kennel club to become a member of the American Kennel Club in 1884.
The 2008 Best in Show winner, Uno the Beagle, fresh off his victory tour that included the first-ever stop at the White House for a Westminster winner, was on hand to welcome the newest breed the Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff, made popular in the 1989 film “Turner and Hooch” starring Tom Hanks.
Others at the press conference were:
Miracle Dog: Tibetan Terrier, Ch Rilee’s Diamonds Are Forever (Sydney), Owner - Brenda Algar. Sydney survived a near fatal attack by a wild bobcat December 2007 and nearly lost one of her legs following the attack. After two operations to save her leg and with the most optimistic outlook being a limp, Sydney survived, has no limp, a beautiful gait, and returned to the ring in September 2008 to finish the year in the Top-20 for Tibetan Terriers.
Rescued from Death Row: Border Collie, Ch Invisible Red Touch From Borders Paradise (Brendan), Owner - Juli Lacey-Black. In December\ 2007, Brendan was due to be exterminated for allegedly attacking several people. Juli rescued, rehabilated the dog and now Brendan is a finished champion going to Westminster
Lost and Found: Beagle, Ch Cabaret Come As You Are (RJ), Owner - Tracy Olson. RJ was lost for a week in the gang areas of Santa Ana, CA. Through Tracy’s efforts working with authorities and gang members, she eventually found RJ who had been hit by a car and had received no medical care or food. This is a beautiful story of how the love for dogs can unite people, no matter their race, religion or background.
Westminster Kennel Club is not only about a dog show – but it is about dogs and their positive effect on society. David Frei, director of communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, is a longtime breeder-owner-handler and judge in the world of purebred dogs. At Westminster, Dave helped to create Angel On A Leash, a charitable activity supporting a therapy dog program at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. Angel On A Leash has now become an independent charity, with Frei serving as president/CEO. Angel on a Leash has expanded into a number of additional facilities across the country, including the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and Providence Health Care in Portland (OR).
Dave volunteers with his own dogs – two Brittanys and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – at the Ronald McDonald House and Sloan Kettering. He also does volunteer work with Transfiguration Church and School in New York’s Chinatown and is also a member of the Sports Council of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In 2002, he co-authored, with Mike Lingenfelter, The Angel By My Side, a critically-acclaimed best seller about a heroic service dog (www.angelbymyside.com).
During the Group judging at Westminster, as shown on TV, Mr. Peter J. Green’s breed specific judging of the Terrier’s was a learning experience. The way he used he used his hands differently on each breed conveyed a knowledge that few possess. This is a true dog man, “Mr. Terrier,” who gained the respect of his peers years ago. His knowledge goes way beyond Terriers – he is a true breed specific all rounder.
Mr. Robert D. Ennis judged the Sporting Group that had one of the finest lineups of Sporting dogs that this writer has been privileged to view. His judging showed his great knowledge of each of the Sporting breeds – again proper use of his hands and each dog was given equal consideration.
Another great Westminster dog show – topped off by “Stump” being awarded Best In Show.
Ch Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee
Breed: Spaniel (Sussex)
Date of Birth: December 01, 1998
Breeder: Douglas Horn & Douglas Johnson & Dee Duffy
Sire: Ch Three D Genghis Khan
Dam: Ch Clussexx Sprinkled With Dew
Owner: Cecilia Ruggles & Beth Dowd & Scott Sommer