23 Granite State dogs in NY's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show spotlightBy SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News
February 13. 2016 8:12PM
The Super Bowl is over and the presidential candidates have moved on, but the real competition is just beginning.
Twenty-three New Hampshire dogs are headed to the Big Apple for the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which takes place Monday and Tuesday.
More than 3,000 dogs will participate in breed judging, agility and, for the first time this year, obedience competitions at the venerable show.
There are no New Hampshire competitors in the inaugural obedience championship being held on Monday. But 11 Granite State dogs and their handlers were set to compete in the third annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a brother-sister pair of Irish setters from Wentworth, a young Labrador retriever from Jaffrey and a veteran cairn terrier from Swanzey are among the top dogs to watch in this year's breed judging.
This will be the fourth, and perhaps last, trip to Westminster for 6-year-old Chuck the cairn terrier, owned by Dayle Reynolds of Swanzey. Last year, the little dog — his show name is American and Canadian Grand Champion Stonebridge Just a Little Bit Better — was the No. 1 cairn in Canada, according to his proud owner.
At last year's Westminster, Chuck won Best of Opposite Sex for his breed; a female cairn was chosen to represent the breed in the terrier group judging.
For most of 2015, Chuck was living with his handler Hailey Griffith in Canada, burning up the show circuit there; he even won Best in Show twice in one day. But he'll come home to New Hampshire after Westminster, Reynolds said.
Chuck has a perfect temperament; he doesn't get rattled by the Westminster crowds, Reynolds said. It's a different story for his owner, however.
“I'm a nervous wreck,” she admitted.
But Reynolds has confidence in her dog. “I know he will do the best he can do,” she said. “He always does.”
Brenda Pierhal, owner of Erinshire Irish Setters in Wentworth, is bringing two of her dogs, Eliott and Scarlett, to the big show. The pair are 5-year-old litter mates.
Eliott — that's American and Canadian Champion Erinshire Forever Stars 'n' Stripes — is her “lovebug,” Pierhal said. “He's a couch potato. He's a goof. He likes to show but he won't show for just anybody.”
So she'll be handling Eliott herself. Will Alexander, who handled a beagle named “Miss P” to Best in Show at Westminster last year, will be handling Scarlett for her.
Scarlett — CH Erinshire Forever Stars Will Shine — is a beauty, she said — she almost called her Elizabeth Taylor — but she sometimes “has an attitude problem.”
A few years back at a dog show, “She actually rolled over and laid down in the ring,” she recalled. “She humiliated me.”
Pierhal has loved the breed for 40 years. “There's no two the same. They're so ridiculous and silly.”
And they keep you on your toes, she said. “They know exactly what they want and how to get it.”
For the dogs, Westminster might seem like just another show, Pierhal said. “They don't realize the importance of it. Even though I tell them, ‘It's the biggest dog show in the whole wide world; you have to be at your best.'?”
Lucille Jordan is bringing her 14-month-old yellow Labrador named Freddee — GCH Tampa Bay & Eagle Pond's Roman Affair — to the big show this year. Jordan, who is president at Nashua Community College, bred the dog herself.
Freddee is the perfect standard of her breed, Jordan said. She earned her championship at just 11 months and became grand champion two months later.
“She's beautiful in the ring,” Jordan said. “She handles herself like she's been a show girl her whole life.”
Freddee is also a playful, loving pet who loves to hike and visit with students at the college. “We have a number of students who have autism. They come into my office and they sit on the floor and play with her,” Jordan said. “She's just that kind of a girl.”
Notch the border collie is back in New York this weekend for the Westminster agility competition. And this time he brought the kids.
Owner Amber McCune of Bedford said Westminster is “a family affair” this year. In addition to competing with Notch, she was handling two of his sons in Saturday's agility championship: her own dog Torque, and Kaboom, owned by McCune's mother, Celeste Meade Maurer.
The family owns and operates American K9 Country in Amherst.
After Notch's win at the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge last September, McCune had her heart set on winning at Westminster this year. If so, expect to see them on television Monday night, when the agility champion will be honored during that night's broadcast.
Notch competed at Westminster's agility competition last year, posting the fastest time in his division. But he knocked down a bar on his second-to-last jump, so he missed the win.
This year, McCune said, “Our goal is definitely to win.”
All the noise and commotion of Westminster doesn't bother Notch at all, she said. “The more screaming, the more crowds, the more he is just jazzed, ready to go,” she said.
• The 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is televised Monday on CNBC, from 8 to 11 p.m., featuring judging of the Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding groups. On Tuesday, USA airs the Sporting, Working and Terrier groups, followed by Best in Show, from 8 to 11 p.m.
For digital live streaming of daily breed judging and evening competition, go to www.wkclive.com.