Dogs have their day

Ginny Verville and Patti Bailey-Cutler showed father-daughter pair Reno and Phoenix at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Reno (right) won the “Best of Breed” while Phoenix won the “Best of Opposite Sex.” (courtesy image)

Local dogs Reno and Phoenix shine on biggest stage

Feb. 27, 2019 — The ultimate validation for a dog and its owner and trainer is recognition from the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Generally considered the gold standard for dog breeders and their canines, a win at Westminster means more than a trophy for winners — it means their efforts have been recognized as superior to other breeders from around the country and the world.

The Westminster competition has been taking place in New York City since 1877, making the event the U.S.’s second-longest continually held sporting event behind the Kentucky Derby.

The appeal and glamor associated with the event has grown over the years and the television broadcast of the two-day competition draws high ratings for viewership.

Area resident Ginny Verville, the owner of Aloha Pet Grooming, has participated in previous Westminster competitions with some success, but this year she had the pleasure of seeing her dogs win multiple titles in New York.

“I had two dogs place in Westminster this year!” she said. “Reno is a Miniature American Shepherd. He is four years old and he is the No. 1 Mini for 2018. His daughter, Phoenix, which I bred and raised, is currently No. 2 for 2019. Reno took Best of Breed and Phoenix took the Best of Opposite Sex. Basically, it’s like getting first and second place.”

During the dog show, the title of Best in Breed is achieved after a dog advances through a series of showings which produce a Best in Breed winner. These animals and their humans then compete for Best in Group and if very fortunate, Best in Show.

The Westminster show originated as a competition for gun dogs, mostly setters and pointers, and expanded over the years to include many other breeds of dogs. The 2019 show had more than 2,800 dogs, representing 190 AKC-registered breeds, competing for the title of “Best in Show.” These 190 breeds are divided into seven groups, which compete against one another to determine a group winner. These group winners then compete for the title “Best in Show.”

The number of competitors participating each year would undoubtedly be higher if entries were not capped, due to the limited space at the show’s long-time venue, Madison Square Garden.

The pleasure Verville receives from entering and winning a competition like the one in New York is not because of the prize money she may win, because there is none.

There are some financial rewards that come with the selling of puppies from a winner at Westminster, but the costs associated with competing can often exceed the amount received for selling winning offspring. The main satisfaction Verville and other similarly dedicated owners and breeders receive is in seeing their dogs recognized as some of the best in the world.

All in all, these are a pair of very good dogs.