2008 WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW
COURTESY MIGUEL BETANCOURT
Champion Pupukea Ridge Ikaika O Spring Valley, above, a Rhodesian ridgeback, struts his stuff at the Westminster Dog Show.
Hawaii dogs make good showing
New York » Eight dogs from Hawaii made the cut and were accepted to strut their stuff among 2,619 others representing more than 100 breeds at the 2008 Westminster Dog Show this week.
The Westminster, touted as "America's Dog Show," is held at Madison Square Garden and is in its 132nd year. It is counted as the second-oldest sporting event in the United States. (The Kentucky Derby is the oldest, held annually since 1874 in Louisville.)
To qualify for the Westminster, a dog must be an American Kennel Club-approved purebred (no poi dogs need apply) and must have earned a breed championship title, which goes to dogs that acquire a set number of points in dog-show wins.
The dogs are first judged against others of their breed. Each breed winner competes in one of seven groups -- herding, hound, nonsporting, sporting, terrier, toy or working. The best dogs of each of the seven groups compete for the coveted title, Best in Show.
The lucky eight representing Hawaii included a Rhodesian ridgeback (hound category), a dachshund (longhaired, also hound), a Portuguese water dog (working), a Kerry blue terrier (terrier), a Chihuahua (toy), and three Shih Tzu (also toys).
It should be noted that while the owners of the dogs might reside in Hawaii, the dogs are often boarded, where they are trained and cared for by professional handlers.
While temperatures hovered near zero and intermittent snow flurried outside, the inside of Madison Square Gardens was steamy with dog activity.
Champion Surfdogs Haole Boy, better known as GQ, a 4-year-old Portuguese water dog, received an Award of Excellence and Merit for scoring in the Top 5 of 22 of his breed entered this year.
San Francisco Giants fans might know the water dog as the stealth swimmers that make up the Baseball Aquatic Retrieval Korps (B.A.R.K.) that retrieve home-run balls in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay.
COURTESY CAROL BEUCHAT
Champion Surfdogs Haole Boy, a Portuguese waterdog holds a pose for judges, left.
What's next for GQ and his owners, Greg Gilliom and Kathy Kissel of Kamuela? He'll have a brief layover in California for another show before heading back to the Big Island for some well-earned rest and relaxation. "I've been trying to teach him to swim underwater," says Kissel. "When he's comfortable with that, we'll try retrieving lobster."
Champion Pupukea Ridge Ikaika O Spring Valley, Ikaika for short, a 2 1/2 -year-old Rhodesian ridgeback, also received an Award of Excellence and Merit for placing among the Top 5 of 35 ridgebacks entered.
"Ikaika is what dog people call a 'pup-cicle,' meaning his father's frozen semen was shipped to Hawaii from his home state of Connecticut," said Tom Peach, who owns Ikaika with his wife, Barbara. While perhaps not as romantic as arranging an actual romantic getaway to the islands, artificial insemination is definitely more economical than standard breeding procedures.
Ikaika's father twice earned Best of Breed at past Westminster shows, and, similar to horses, champion dogs command high stud fees. "Ikaika enjoys traveling," says Barbara, when asked if Ikaika ever tired of the rigors of the dog-show circuit. "In hotel rooms, Ikaika and Minnie (his pooch pal) love to jump from bed to bed before flopping down for the night."
As with all major sporting events, Las Vegas was in the mix, placing odds on possible winning dogs -- not just the breed, but also the age and sex of the dog and, believe it or not, the gender of the handler.
Johnny Avello, director of Race and Sports Operations at the Wynn in Las Vegas, said this speculation is for entertainment only. "The Gaming Board disallows any wagers regarding the Westminster. The Best of Show is selected by a judge and is not a game played on a field, court or rink."
Before the show, Avello provided his premonition of what breed might win this year's Super Bowl of Dogdom. "I'm looking forward to the possibility of an underdog, like the New York Giants, to win."
In his official prediction, Avello listed 10-1 odds that a dog from the hound category would win, and he was right on target. Champion K-Run's Park Me in First, or Uno, a handsome 3-year-old beagle who brought the sold-out crowd to its feet during his jaunt around the ring during final judging, was awarded 2008 Best of Show.
Jefferson Finney runs the Star-Bulletin's Newspapers in Education program.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
A photograph of the dog Pupukea Ridge Ikaika O Spring Valley at the Westminster Dog Show was taken by Miguel Betancourt and a photograph of Champion Surfdogs Haole Boy was taken by Carol Beuchant. The names of the photographers were incorrect in this article.