L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Dog Shows

Affenpinscher 'Taser' and Brussels griffon 'Lincoln' to face off in Toy group (no surprise there)

Taser the Affenpinscher will go head-to-head with Lincoln the Brussels Griffon in Westminster's Toy group

It's official: Taser (Ch. Tamarin Tug, above, the winningest affenpinscher in the breed's history) and Lincoln (Ch. Cilleine Masquerade, a top-ranked Brussels griffon) will meet on the green-carpeted grounds of Madison Square Garden in the Toy group tonight.  Each won its respective breed competition earlier today.

Both Taser and Lincoln have been favored by many to win tonight's Best in Show competition -- but of course, only one of them can win the Toy group to make it into Westminster's final round.

Fun fact: Taser's owners, Phil and Patty Smith, are the parents of Taser International's CEO.  So if this little "monkey dog" (yes, affenpinschers are really called that) winds up winning it all, brace yourself for a spate of headlines containing some variation on the phrase "Don't tase me, bro!"

Fair warning. 

But you won't read it here; we promise.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Taser with his handler, Jorge Olivera.  Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press.

Standard Poodle "Yes" wins Westminster's Non-Sporting group

Standard poodle Ch Randenn Tristar Affirmation won the Non-Sporting group at the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Ch. Randenn Tristar Affirmation, a 6-year-old female Standard Poodle owned by Toni and Martin Sosnoff and handled by Timothy Brazier, won the Non-Sporting group.  Yes, as she's known to friends, was the fourth-ranked show dog in the country last year and has won more than 90 Best in Show titles. 

And Yes has an unusual backstory, as USA Today explains:

Standard poodle Ch Randenn Tristar Affirmation won the Non-Sporting group at the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Yes' father, or sire in dog talk, was Ch. Eaton Affirmed, known as Snapper. Though Snapper died in 1990, his owner, Timothy Brazier, froze the dog's semen a quarter century ago, which was very rare for that time. ...

Brazier says Yes has many of the same qualities as her father. "That look, temperament, style and 'poodlely' demeanor," he says. "The world is her oyster."

The first attempt to artificially inseminate Yes' mother, Ch. Randenn Tres Chic, failed. The second try with one of the last vials was successful.

Finally, when the dog gave birth to a single pup, Brazier's reaction was, "Yes!"

Four Standard Poodles have previously won Best in Show at Westminster.  (Full disclosure: We are rooting for her as we had black Standard Poodles growing up.) 

Rounding out the top four placements were a French Bulldog named Ch. Lebull's Midnight Confessions, a Bulldog named Ch. Kepley's Showbiz Razzle Dazzle and a Bichon Frise named Ch. Gemstone Spoiled To Perfection.

--Lindsay Barnett

Top credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Bottom credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Scottish Terrier "Sadie" wins Westminster's Terrier group

Handler Gabriel Rangel bends down to congratulate Scottish terrier Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot after winning the terrier group at the 133rd Westminster 
Kennel Club Dog Show

With native breeds winning both the Hound and Terrier groups, it was a big day for Scotsmen! 

After Scottish Terrier Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot won the Terrier group, her handler, Gabriel Rangel, joked, "Maybe I ought to have a Scotch."  (Rangel also brought a good-luck charm into the ring: the leash he used last night was the same one used to guide the winner of the 1967 Westminster show, another Scottie named Ch. Bardene Bingo.)

The winning terrier, called Sadie for short, is a 3-year-old female owned by Amelia Musser. 

The Scottie has won Westminster's Best in Show title seven times, a feat only beaten by another terrier, the Wire Fox.  Forty-four terriers in total have won Best in Show, far surpassing any other group (and causing Vegas odds expert John Avello to give the group's representative 2-1 odds to win tonight).

Coming in seconnd, third and fourth were a Sealyham Terrier named Ch. Efbe's Hidalgo at Goodspice, a Norwich Terrier named Ch. Skyscot's Poker Chip, and a Miniature Schnauzer named Ch. Earthsong Remedy for the Blues, respectively.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Scottish deerhound "Tiger Woods" wins Westminster's hound group

Handler Clifford W. Steele and his Scottish deerhound, Ch Gayleward's Tiger 
Woods, run in the ring during the Hound Group, which he won, during the 133rd 
annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Winner of the Westminster Dog Show's hound group was Ch. Gayleward's Tiger Woods, a 7-year-old male Scottish deerhound bred and owned by Gayle Bontecou and handled by Clifford W. Steele. 

Bontecou is, predictably, an avid golfer.  She told USA Today that her prize-winning dog was named after the golf pro because "there's nothing better than Tiger Woods," adding that his human namesake should approve "because he's really good. They both are total athletes."

A Scottish deerhound has never won best in show at Westminster.

Rounding out the top four hounds were an Irish wolfhound named Ch. Dun Myrica Speaker of Eagle, a bloodhound named Ch. Quiet Creek's Mi Amor and a wirehaired dachshund named Ch. Daybreak's Awesome Blossom W.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Puli "Conrad" wins Westminster's herding group

A puli named Field Of Dreams won the Herding Group at the 133rd Westminster 
Kennel Club dog show

Last night was one of the biggest of the year for dog fanciers, who turned out (albeit in fewer numbers than last year, a fact attributed by show organizers to the nation's economic troubles) at Madison Square Garden to see the coveted Westminster Group placements awarded. 

A group win, of course, is a "golden ticket" to tonight's best in show competition -- Monday yielded winners for the herding, terrier, non-sporting and hound groups.  (Favored to win best in show by many Westminster experts are an Affenpinscher named Taser and a Brussels griffon named Lincoln -- who, assuming each wins their respective breed class, will go head to head in the toy group tonight.)

Ch. Cordmaker Field of Dreams, a 4-year-old male Puli owned by Susan Huebner and Jackie Beaudoin and handled by Linda Pitts, won the herding group.  He's called Conrad for short. 

Pulik (the plural form of Puli, a Hungarian breed), along with their larger cousins, Komondorok,  are known for their corded coats.  Since it takes a long time for Conrad's to dry, he won't receive a bath before tonight's best in show competition, Pitts told the Associated Press, saying that instead she'll tie his cords up "like a Christmas tree" to prevent them from getting dirty before his big moment.

Rounding out the top four were a bouvier des Flandres named Ch. Voodoo Slam Dunks Susants, a rough collie named Ch. Sylvan Argent Simply Irresistible, and an Old English sheepdog named Ch. Lambluv's Daydream Believer.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Seth Wenig /Associated Press

PETA protests Westminster dog show (Klan hoods and all)

PETA turns out at Madison Square Garden to protest the Westminster dog show, complete with KKK robes

True to the promise it made last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals turned out at Madison Square Garden today to protest the 133rd annual Westminster dog show. 

Group members, decked out in Klansman robes and armed with brochures that read "The KKK and the AKC: BFF?", argued that purebred dogs suffer from breeding practices designed to produce show winners rather than healthy animals.  A sample statement from the brochure (written in the first person as if by a Klan member):

Like the Klan, dog breeders who subscribe to the AKC standards are all about the sanctity of "pure bloodlines." So what if beagles have epileptic seizures, Dalmatians are deaf, and pugs can barely breathe because of how they are purposely bred to look a certain way?  Looks are everything!

In a statement, PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch referred to what she termed the AKC's "fetish for body image," saying that the kennel club's promotion of purebreds "means money for breeders but creates sick dogs and vet bills for their guardians." 

In response to such claims, Westminster spokesman and commentator David Frei told the Associated Press, "I can't speak for everyone, but the vast majority of the people exhibiting and handling and showing at Westminster are more interested in the health of dogs than anything else ... We want to produce the next generation of healthy and happy dogs, not just for the show ring but for the couches at home." (Kathy Weichert, the breeder of last year's Westminster winner, Uno, shared Frei's sentiments when she talked to Unleashed last month.)

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PETA to compare the AKC to the KKK in Westminster protest

When dog show exhibitors and fans from across the country gather at Madison Square Garden for the Westminster Kennel Club dog show next week, PETA plans to make a big statement.

The group has announced plans to demonstrate outside the Madison Square Garden main entrance on Monday, the first day of competition.

With them, of course, will be picket signs.  Those signs, they say, will read "KKK and AKC Support Pure Bloodlines."  PETA blogger Alisa Mullins writes:

We'll show up dressed as Klansmen to point out some of the eerie similarities between the AKC and the KKK. Pure bloodlines, master race/master pedigree, woeful lack of fashion sense. Creepy, isn't it?

As we've previously reported here on Unleashed, PETA originally requested that the USA Network drop its coverage of America's biggest dog show, arguing that "dogs suffer painful cosmetic surgeries and millions of wonderful dogs die in animal shelters because of the AKC's inhumane policies." 

When that tactic failed, the group took on the show's sponsors, asking representatives from Pedigree Dog Food, LifeLock, TransUnion, Intuit and others to "pull your company's sponsorship of this event until the AKC revises its breeding standards" as the British Kennel Club did last month.

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Breeder of Westminster winner Uno has a few words for PETA

Uno2When we told you on Monday about PETA's request that the USA Network drop the Westminster dog show from its schedule, we were overwhelmed with the volume of comments and e-mails we received.  More than 400 of you responded, and most were none too pleased with PETA's statements about the dog show world.  (To read more, check out The Times' Comments Blog.)

One reader we heard from was Kathy Weichert, a breeder, owner and exhibitor of champion Beagles including Uno, last year's Westminster winner.  We caught up with Weichert on topics ranging from Westminster (as you might imagine, she's a fan) to the animal rights movement (as you might imagine, she's not a fan).

PETA, according to Weichert, is "a radical group that believes no animal should be domesticated.  They are targeting [Westminster] because it is highly visible around the world."   

"Hobby breeders" like herself (as opposed to puppy mills, which churn out purebred dogs for profit), says Weichert, are not responsible for genetic defects in purebred dogs.  "Reputable breeders, as opposed to mills or backyard breeders, would never intentionally or knowingly breed animals that were diagnosed or known to carry genetic or fatal faults."  Small-time breeders, she thinks, "most definitely are a positive influence on the breeds," and breeders are among the most prominent donors to groups like the AKC's Canine Health Foundation, which research genetic disorders in dogs.

So what about breeds like the Pekingese and Pug, whose squashed faces can cause breathing problems, and the Chinese shar-pei and Bloodhound, whose wrinkles can become breeding grounds for infection?  Do breeders contribute to such problems by locking these traits into their dogs' bloodlines? 

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PETA responds to BBC filmmaker's "crackpots" comment

A Chinese Crested competes in 2008's Westminster show We told you yesterday that Jemima Harrison, the filmmaker whose controversial documentary led the BBC to drop Crufts from its airwaves, is upset (to say the least) with PETA.  The animal rights group, she says, "devalues and marginalises" her film by using it as ammunition against Westminster, America's most prestigious dog show.

Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA's Vice President for Cruelty Investigations, responded to Harrison's comments today in a statement provided to Unleashed:

We were sorry to see Ms. Harrison's rant against PETA's reasonable request that, like the BBC, the USA Network recognize the tragic, dire crisis dogs — purebred (as well as the Great American mutt) — are facing today. In the U.S., an estimated 25 percent of dogs in shelters are "purebred." A dog does not care if he has papers or not and anyone who has studied the modus operandi of the American Kennel Club knows that those papers are so meaningless you might as well line a puppy pen with them. The AKC has issued papers for puppies who were never born, dead dogs and even cats, all as "purebreds"! The fact, however is that dogs need love and attention, exercise, praise, a soft spot to stretch out in — preferably next to "their" human — and respect for their individuality...

Dog shows are for human beings' amusement and profit. They are not made for dogs' benefit or enjoyment and they promote breeding and vanity purchases (a dog to match my look, my lifestyle, a trophy dog, an arm candy toy, and so on), while 6-8 million unwanted animals, many dogs, get dropped off at shelters every year, literally dying for a home. It's simple math — too many animals, not enough homes — and we should not be adding to the problem. The key to end this crisis is prevention through animal birth control and in treating dogs as individuals with emotions, not as if they were something they are not...

Dog shows like Westminster, says Nachminovitch, exist to glorify humans rather than dogs (who, she says, seemed "undeniably miserable and uncomfortable with the pre-show grooming ordeal and the totally unnatural stillness required of them to be combed, brushed plucked and mucked about" when PETA went undercover at the show last year).  See a video made by PETA documenting Westminster pre-show grooming rituals after the jump.

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BBC documentarian: "PETA is a bunch of crackpots"

Basset Hound

Filmmaker Jemima Harrison, the documentarian behind the BBC's explosive "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," is lashing out against PETA for "using the film to further its own, warped agenda," she said today.

The controversial findings in "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" led the BBC to drop its planned coverage of Britain's famed Crufts dog show, citing concerns about the health of purebred dogs.  As we told you on Monday, PETA has asked the USA Network, which historically airs the Westminster Kennel Club dog show every February, to follow BBC's lead and discontinue coverage.

So how does Harrison like PETA using her film as ammunition against Westminster?  Not one bit, and she minces no words in a statement provided to L.A. Unleashed today: 

"Our film is about animal welfare, not animal rights.

"PETA's animal welfare record is appalling. It kills 97 percent of the dogs that come to its shelters and admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the 'domestic enslavement' of dogs as either pets or working dogs.

"In stark contrast, and the reason we made the film, is that we believe pedigree dogs are of tremendous value to society and that something needs to be done to arrest the damage caused by decades of inbreeding and selection for 'beauty'. The film is a passionate call for urgent reform to save them before it is too late.  To do that, there needs to be urgent reform of breeding practices and dog shows. 

"PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money. They have not bothered to contact us -- and, indeed, if they did we would make it very clear we do not want their support. It devalues and marginalises a film that raises a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly."

What do you think -- is PETA off the deep end, or right in suggesting that the big daddy of dog shows should be pulled from TV stations?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A basset hound competes in the National Dog Show.  Bassets, along with Pekingese, Chinese shar-peis, bulldogs, German shepherd dogs and other breeds, were listed by the BBC as at "high risk" for genetic disorders as a result of selective breeding.  Credit: Matt Rourke / Associated Press.

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