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Local dog qualifies for prestigious shows

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Local dog qualifies for prestigious shows (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Henderson)

HOLDEN – A Penobscot County kennel has earned the rare distinction of qualifying for the two most prestigious dog shows in the world, the Westminster KC Show in New York and the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham, England.

American Kennel Club Grand Champion, Canadian Champion and Bermudian Champion Renaissance LB ;-), a Papillon owned by Rebecca Henderson of Holden, will compete Feb. 11-14 at Westminster and then fly to Europe to compete March 9-12 at Crufts. Henderson owns Renaissance Dogs, a boarding, daycare and training center at 127 Main Road (Route 1A) in Holden.

Westminster and Crufts are considered the premier events of pedigreed canine competition because only dogs which have won prior Championships at sanctioned events are invited to enter.

LB qualified to enter Westminster by winning his Grand Championship at American Kennel Club-sanctioned competitions over the past year. The British Kennel Club invited Henderson to enter LB after he won four Group Firsts and a Reserve Best in Show at the Bermuda KC Show.

“LB is a great canine competitor and we’ve worked hard to bring him to this level. Casual observers don’t appreciate that these dogs are true athletes who must be prepared to be at their best when called upon in a long grueling series of showings,” Henderson said.

Both Westminster and Crufts are benched shows, which means the dogs are kept in crates in backstage bench areas for public inspection where they are groomed and prepped. In the first event they compete with dogs of their own breed to win Best of Breed. Those winners then enter one of seven Group competitions to compete for Best in Group. The seven Group winners compete in the last event to be crowned Best in Show.

Papillon is part of the Toy Group and competes there against Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pincher, Pekinese, Pomeranian, Toy and Miniature Poodle, Shih-Tzu and Yorkshire Terrier. The other groups which make up the seven Best in Show competitors are Herding, Hound, Sporting, Non-Sporting, Terrier and Working.

“It is rigorous and a dog must be in top form and really enjoy the pace in order to show well for judges but LB has proven up to the task,” Henderson explained. “I am delighted that he has qualified to compete at the highest level of competition both here and in Europe.”

Official Kennel Club-sanction dog shows are not beauty contests where dogs are judged against each other by looks. Each breed has an official set of standards accepted by the American Kennel Club and the UK Kennel Club. Each dog is judged individually for how closely it conforms to the official breed standard. The more championship points a dog wins, the higher it goes in the breeding register for future mating to continue the pedigree lineage. A dog that wins Best in Show is deemed to most closely conform to its standard than the hundreds of other dogs which started the competition.

Westminster Dog Show, founded in 1884, is the largest in North America. The individual breed judging will take place February 11 and 12 at the Pier 92-94 on 12th Avenue at 55th Street during the day and televised live on the National Geographic Wild channel. The Best in Group competitions, televised nationally on Fox Sports 1, will be held at Madison Square Garden on the evenings of Feb. 13 and 14, with Best in Show the final event on the last night.

Crufts, founded in 1891, is considered the largest dog show in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. Judging at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham will be March 9-12. The British Kennel Club will stream worldwide the live coverage from London Channel 4.

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