On Saturday, my husband, Rich, had the honor of transporting Old English sheepdog, DJ, and his owner, Beverly Barbaz, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to Manhattan for DJ’s debut at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Rich drove DJ, and his “Mom,” to their hotel just a few blocks away from Madison Square Garden.  According to him, dogs had invaded the sidewalks, and hotel lobbies of New York City.  All kinds of dogs greeted him upon his arrival, including a “party-mix” Portuguese water dog that sashayed right past him.  Hooper’s snout was out of joint because her dad didn’t get its “pawtagraph.”

On the official website for the Westminster event, there is a beautiful watercolor that has been made into a poster for this year’s event.  In it, a woman in a car (circa  the 1940s), transports her dog past a back drop of several others, including to my pleasure, a big black and white Portuguese water dog, complete with its big goofy expression.

This week marks the 134th annual occurence of this prestigious dog show.  This year, 170 different breeds will be judged.  Officially, there are seven Breed Groups judged at the Westminster show, however, there is also a group of “dogs in waiting” that occupy an eighth group knows as “Miscellaneous.”  Even if DJ is deemed best in his breed, he is up against unusually stiff competition in the Herding Group.  This year, two new breeds were welcomed into this group, the Norwegian Buhund, and the Pyrenean Shepherd.   Also making its debut, is the Irish Red and White Setter, in the Non-Sporting Group.

DJ’s handler is Gail Bodisch, of Deja Blu Old English Sheepdogs in Poughquag, New York.  Hopefully, after Gail is finished with her hard work at this event, I can talk to her about the crucial bond that exists between a dog and its handler.  Rich related to me how excited, and happy, DJ was to see Gail in New York City. 

On the subject of dog handling, an item in a Spartanburg, South Carolina newspaper, written by Lee G. Healy, tells how a local boy from that area, 12-year old Zakery Slater, will become the youngest handler in the junior category to ever appear at the Westminster Show.  Zak will be showing his Bernese mountain dog, Kaz, tomorrow.  Zak qualified for this honor by achieving 10 first-place wins in one year’s time.   Will Judy, the founder of National Dog Week, would have been proud of this young man.  Captain Judy, and much later, Captain Arthur Haggerty knew that by working together, a young person, and their dog, can learn the importance of team work, discipline, and even, as in this case, lead youths to consider career options that involve animals, and their care.

Another way to honor dogs is to celebrate them in art.  Our “seasonal neighbors,” down in Big Pine Key, Florida, Rick and Diane, recently sent the above photo of a portrait of their dogs, Koda, and Logan.  Logan was recently adopted by Diane and Rick, after the passing of their beloved shepherd, Dugan.  Koda, also an adoptee, is now five years old.  Their friend, artist, Steven Hall, presented them with this beautiful portrait just the other day. 

And we look forward to meeting Logan, soon, as we will be traveling down that way on Thursday.  Posting will continue as we journey south, through St. Augustine, Orlando, Port Charlotte, Weston, and finally to the Keys.  Last year I was informed that more best selling books were written in the Florida Keys than anywhere else.  I sure hope that’s  true, because I hope to be completing most of my National Dog Week book while I am down there….Stay tuned while I get those “ruff” drafts in shape!

I’ll let you know how sweet “little” DJ made out in New York.

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