Thursday, August 28, 2008
WHO'S TOP DOG
Show dog rankings are fun things. We have links on our front page to the three most popular rankings, Dog News, Show Sights Magazine and the Canine Chronicle. Like the Associated Press' college football rankings, these monthly rankings are sources of great pride and great consternation. This year we have two really superb animals at the top of the rankings.
Currently in the lead is the Giant Schnauzer bitch, CH Gallilee's Pure of Spirit, with 68, 405 dogs defeated and 38 shows and 75 groups won as of July 31, 2008. Spirit is almost four years old and owned by Mary Hayes of New Canaan, CT.
Spirit is handled by Taffe McFadden, wife and handling partner of the superstar handler, Bill McFadden. Because Bill and Taffe are based in Northern California, Spirit's specials campaign has been concentrated on the west coast. Bill has jet set clients and he himself is quite the traveler. He never misses a Westminster (We all remember the dazzling Kerry Blue he piloted to BIS in 2003). Taffe was just in Atlanta this past weekend, where she and Spirit went BIS Friday and Saturday. They went Group One on Sunday, but lost to the German Shepherd Dog, CH Woodside's Pacino in the BIS ring.
Second in the rankings is the three year old Pointer bitch, CH Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry with 56,178 dogs defeated and 52 shows and 90 groups won as of the end of July. Holly is owned by Sean McCarthy & Tammy McCarthy of New York, NY & Helyne Medeiros of Cape Cod, MA. Holly was bred by Cheryl S. LaDuc, A. Cantor, and A. Walker (You can tell by the number of owners and breeders that this dog is a major business venture. I know law firms with fewer partners). Holly is also partnered by a powerhouse handler, Michael E. Scott, who is married to the former Michelle Ostermiller. You might remember Michelle as the handler of the 2005 Wesminster winner, Ch Kan-Point's VJK Autumn Roses, German Shorthair Pointer (more on that win later).
While dog show rankings are more objective than the aforementioned AP college football rankings, they are still can be debated over post show cocktails. At first glance, they seem straight forward. By the end of July, Spirit had defeated 12,227 more dogs than Holly, a whopping 22 percent more. However, Holly has amassed 14 more best in shows, 33 percent more, than Spirit. During the current month Holly has picked up six more BIS to Spirit's five. The most telling statistic is the Cantfield, OH hat trick pulled off by Holly on the first three days of August. She went BIS at the Columbiana County, Beaver County, and Mahoning-Shenango shows in head to head match ups with Spirit.
So which is the real top dog? We will reserve our opinion until we see the results of the Eukanuba National Championship and Westminster 2009, dogdom's version of the playoffs and the Superbowl. Did I mention that the number five dog, the striking Sealyham Terrier, CH Efbe's Hidalgo at Goodspice, went BIS over both Holly and Spirit at the Saratoga New York KC show on August 6? Damn, I love this stuff!
Now, back to the lovely Michelle Ostermiller Scott...I am a person that catalogues life as a series of memorable events. I have a mental scrapbook of snapshots that remind me how good my life has been. Everyone remembers the day they got married or the day their first child was born. Of course, those are cherished memories, but I have also those memories where I stumbled across extraordinary talent. Among my favorite experiences have been seeing Evita in San Francisco with Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin before they and the show won Tonys on Broadway; seeing Bette Midler perform at the Concord (CA) Pavillion the month before her Oscar nominated movie, The Rose, premiered, and seeing tenor Rolando Villazon in a super tiny concert hall in Atlanta six months before his Metropolitan Opera debut.
Equal to these was watching Michelle's Sporting Group and BIS Westminster wins in 2005. The two things that we all dream of in a show dog are spectacular movement across the ring and a free stack stare down of the judge. I have seen a lot of great show dogs and thrilling finals, but in 40 years of following dogs I have never seen the equal of Michelle's presentation of the GSP bitch, Carlee. She literally dared the judge to take her eyes off her. She was not one of the favorites going in. I remembered the pundits never even mentioned her. However, when she came back to the group judge and Michelle dramaticly dropped the lead, Carlee took over. She hit her mark and stared the judge down like she was a pheasant in the cross hairs. The entire garden was transfixed and, for a moment, all of us, pet owners and die hard enthusiasts, knew we were witnessing greatness. I live for moments like that.