February 12, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Bad toe sidelines Maine dog at championships

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

(Continued from page 1)

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Porter, a cardigan Welsh corgi, is cared for by Diana Chou, assistant to Porter's handler, in the benching area at the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Pier 94 in New York City on Monday.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

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Fly, an Australian shepherd owned by Clara Gardner of Rockland, gets primped by handler Laura Liebenow Monday before being eliminated from the Best in Breed competition.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

"It's all over but for the crying," said owner Gardner as Moses dismissed Liebenow and Fly and the other also-rans from the ring.

"But no crying today," Gardner added less than convincingly. "I'm just happy she was here."

Fly, head still high, trotted back to her grooming table and crate, known in dog-show speak as her "bench."

There, a deluge of spectators (at $25 per head) would spend the rest of the day wandering among the endless rows of corgis, whippets, long coat Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Scottish deerhounds and at least one snowball of a bichon frise with a somewhat creepy thing for eye contact that will freeze you in your tracks.

The owners and handlers are, for the most part, a cordial bunch -- no easy feat, considering the time, money and monumental will power it takes to accrue enough dog-show points and championships just to get here.

But once in awhile, the sheer pressure of it all boils over.

"I hate that judge!" shouted one woman without warning as the competition wound down late Monday afternoon. "I said I'd never show to him again -- and now I never will!"

Not knowing the proper etiquette here, I treaded lightly.

"My, my . . . what kind of dog is this?" I asked.

"A Polish lowland sheepdog," replied the woman's (much calmer) husband.

"Oh really? What's his name?"

"Loser!" bellowed the woman.

"Smokey," smiled the man.

Perhaps I should just move along . . .

"It's my fault!" lamented the woman, still audible over all the barking. "We bring in a world-class dog all the way from Germany and I . . . I just blew it!"

Funny thing about Westminster -- the more uptight the owners and handlers get, the more the dogs look like they couldn't care less.

Fly, after all, is on her way home to Rockland and the same old welcome-home belly rub she always gets from Vern Clark, Gardner's husband.

And Porter, motel spiders or no motel spiders, will be back on the sore paw in no time.

And lest we all wallow in their early trips back to the snowbound north, there's still hope for Maine's dog lovers: Today's entries will include home-state favorite Quincy, the Newfoundland, and golden retrievers Lush, Henry and Tassel.

I have but one request:

Please – and I'm begging here – no more rubber bands.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:


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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Janet Hartmann of California receives a kiss from Gunner, her bichon frise, while in the benching area on Monday at the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Porter, a Welsh Cardigan Corgi from Cape Elizabeth, owned by Jerry and Adrienne Harkavy, missed the Best of Breed competition Monday after being scratched because of a toe injury.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer


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