Westminster Dog Show: 4 new breeds join the club
The American Kennel Club has welcomed four new dog breeds that will compete in the 145th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY
TARRYTOWN, NY – The road to this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has gone through a pandemic and a major change in date and location. For one of the country’s best-known dog handlers, the road also proved dangerous.
Bill McFadden, who guided two Westminster winners, was injured from behind and injured while driving a van full of dogs across the country to the show, his wife and fellow star Taffe McFadden said on Saturday. He was hospitalized for a time after Tuesday’s crash in Wyoming and is now recovering at his home in Acampo, Calif., she said. It will be off the beaten track for a while.
Despite the shock and worry, “I’m really happy to be here. I would like my husband to be with me,” Taffe McFadden said as she and the couple’s assistants prepared their canine charges. “It’s a highly coveted dog show, and for them to work so hard to make it happen is really awesome.”
The Westminster show moved from New York to a suburban estate, and from February to June, so it could be held outdoors as a pandemic precaution; the organizers also closed the show to the public. Judging began on Saturday for the best show prize, which will be awarded on Sunday evening.
Four of the seven finalists are chosen on Saturday evening. Semi-finalists include Bono, a Havanese who made the final last year and is managed by Taffe McFadden.
The McFaddens are one of the power couples in the sport. Bill McFadden managed a bichon frize named Flynn to the best show at Westminster in 2018 and took Mick the Kerry blue terrier to the title in 2003. His wife said he was constantly checking on Saturday for events at the first Westminster that he missed in years.
She said a truck rammed Bill McFadden’s van while it was stopped in a road construction area in Laramie, Wyoming. Messages were left with local law enforcement on Saturday about the accident.
The 10 dogs on board were uninjured, his wife said, but a veterinary chiropractor was working with them on Saturday for aches and pains.
This year marks the first time the 145-year-old show has been outside of Manhattan. A portion of the competition is usually held in exhibit buildings on the Hudson River Waterfront and the remainder in Madison Square Garden.
Many owners and handlers say they and their dogs enjoy the fresh, breathing air of the sprawling Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, New York. Still, the outdoor setting presented some challenges, including the lack of electricity and water supply for grooming.
Some attendees brought their own – Team McFadden, for example, was set up in a parking lot with five generators, six 6-gallon jugs of water, a tent, and small fenced-in enclosures for the dogs to hang out in. the outside.
Others had to be a bit more catch-as-catch-can. Janet Atkins and Charles Namey bathed and dried their bearded collie, Moet, at a local pet store on Friday, then brushed her and did other finishing touches on Saturday on a table outside their minivan, with plastic sheeting for an awning.
“You go with what you can,” said Atkins, of Winter Park, Fla.
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After flying out of Toronto on Friday night, Irina Falk stayed up until 2 a.m. Saturday to bathe and dry her Yorkshire terriers Tim Tim and Kenzo, then got up three hours later to go to the show , arranging their knots and trying to keep their silky, flowing coats cool on a wet morning on the Lyndhurst lawn.
“I had grass on the brush, on the coat, in my dress,” she said with a smile.
Four breeds make their Westminster debut this weekend, including the Belgian Laekenois. “Congratulations – you made history today,” Judge Sharon Ann Redmer told half a dozen Laekenois and their human partners. Sheepdogs are generally known for their hard work and drive, but Saffron is also “the happiest dog in the world,” says Trina Matteson, of Silver Springs, Florida.
Jack Jack the French Bulldog may not have gone down in history. But being in Westminster is “on the bucket list” for owner Kami Harris. She had never imagined getting involved in dog shows until she got the dog as a pet, and her breeder suggested she show it to him.
“Since COVID hit, I’ve realized how much I love it and miss it,” says Harris, of Oregon City, Oregon. “The friendships you make and the people you meet – that’s a community.”