Get To Know A Handful Of The Connecticut Dogs Heading To Westminster

The 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show airs Feb. 11 to 13, and 128 Connecticut dogs are headed to New York City to compete among the more than 2,800 pups vying for best in their breeds, groups, and, ultimately, best in show.

Show-dog owners choose their breeds for a variety of reasons. Some chose a breed because its fur is hypoallergenic or because short hair is easier to groom than long hair. Or maybe they did a friend a favor by taking a dog, then got hooked.

The main reason, though, is the “awwww” factor, otherwise known as “Look at that little face!” Owners of elite dogs really are just like other dog owners. They just want to look into a dog’s eyes and fall in love.

So let’s get to know a little bit about what attracted these Greater-Hartford owners to their Westminster competitors, who we are convinced, after meeting them, are all winners. Good luck, boys and girls!

Max And Malna

Max is a chocolate Spanish Water Dog and Malna is a 2½ year-old white Hungarian Pumi. The 2-year-old pups, both in the herding group, are owned by Heather Stimson of Copper Kennel in Windsor.

Years ago, Stimson saw a Spanish Water Dog at a show and researched it. It had all the qualities she liked. “I went to Spain intending to get one dog,” she says. “The breeder said ‘Here’s three’.”

Stimson chose the Hungarian dog for the same reason she chose the Spanish. “They are hypoallergenic dogs,” she says. “I have allergies.”

Stella

Fewer than 100 Harriers live in the United States. Christine Voronovitch of Manchester is on a mission. She’s bringing her 3-year-old Harrier, Stella, to compete in the hound group to bring awareness to the breed.

“They originate in England but they don’t register them in England because they view them just as hunting dogs, not show dogs, not pets. They don’t keep a stud book,” she says. “In the U.S. the Harrier breed could die out because there is not enough genetic diversity.”

Voronovitch, who owns Stella with Alice Quinn, adores her pup.

“Stella is the most active dog. She can find a small piece of kibble that has fallen on the floor, gotten under a radiator or a piece of rug,” she says. “In the backyard she’s almost caught three rabbits. She’s very driven by her nose. It’s hard to get her to not pay attention to her nose.”

Olive

Alicja Michnowicz of Coventry got the Rhodesian Ridgeback bug in 1989, while working as a vet tech and helping deliver a litter of puppies. She took one home and named it Saber. Olive, at Westminster this year, is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Saber. Marsa Hatfield is the co-owner. Ridgebacks compete in the hound group.

Michnowicz loves the Ridgebacks for their brains but says their mischievous nature, combined with intelligence, can make them naughty.

“When I got Saber, I was trying to be firm, no couches, no beds. So she removed all the cushions from the couch and got all the pillows and comforters and made her own bed on the floor.”

Kaia

Kaia, a liver-colored 5-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, is owned by Dawn Bradshaw of Coyote Hill Kennel in Ellington. Kaia will compete in the sporting group.

Bradshaw’s husband is a hunter. “He grew up with English Setters. When he brought his dog home I was stuck with grooming it,” she says. “I told him ‘I want a dog with less hair’.”

They got a German Shorthaired Pointer and fell in love. Now they have seven. They are as snuggly in the house as they are efficient in the hunt.

“I sit on the recliner and [Kaia] sits in it with me and we watch TV,” she says. “The others sit on the couch and lay on top of my husband.”

David, Mr. Wiggles, Cabrita, Fado And Tia

Margaret Boisture, of Star Mountain Kennel in Windsor, will have her hands full at Westminster. She’s showing five Portuguese Podengo Pequenos: good boys David, 5, and his son, Mr. Wiggles, 2; and good girls Cabrita, 6, Fado, 3, and Tia, 1. Pequenos are in the hound group.

She owns David, Cabrita, Fado and Mr. Wiggles. Rose Hidlay, Robert Hidlay and Bruce Boisture co-own Tia with her.

The Pequenos live with Boisture and her Estrela Mountain Dog, Bella, and her husband’s Grand Pyrenees, Kono. “They are a pack dog, which means they usually live in harmony with other dogs,” she says.

Pequenos “have a big personality inside a little package,” Boisture says.

“They’re cuddly but not needy. David will come up to my lap and give me kisses and sit with me and then go off and do his own thing. They’re not lapdogs. They’re content with just checking in on you now and then.”

Lily

Chrystine Longley and her daughter Colleen, of Lagniappe Kennel in North Granby, will show their 2-year-old Tibetan Spaniel Lily in the non-sporting group. “I named the kennel after the breed,” Chrystine Longley says. “Lagniappe means ‘a little something extra special’.”

Longley has gone to Westminster for about 15 years. One of her dogs, Wonka, won an award of merit in 2011. Wonka was Lily’s grandfather.

Longley is realistic about her chances. “In non-sporting, poodles tend to win everything,” she says.

Georgia

Lori A. Mowery of Enfield is bringing Georgia, her 4-year-old orange-and-white English Setter, to compete in the sporting group. If you had told Mowery 20 years ago she would own only setters, she wouldn’t have believed you.

“I started 20 years ago showing German Shepherds. I had a friend and her breeder wanted someone to take this last puppy,” she said. “I said, oh, fine. That was my venture into English setters.” Now she has five.

Mowery is a registered AKC dog handler and has been to Westminster many times with her own dogs and others. This is her first Westminster with only her own. “It’s just me and Georgia,” she says.

Martin

Stacie Zibel of Bloomfield likes brachycephalic dogs – the ones with flat faces – so Boston Terriers are her passion. She is bringing her 2-year-old, Martin, to Westminster to compete in the non-sporting group.

“They call Bostons ‘The American gentleman’ because it was one of the only breeds that originated in the United States … and because their coat looks like a tuxedo,” Zibel says.

That short, easy coat led Zibel to switch from another brachycephalic dog – fluffy Shih Tzus – to Bostons. She now owns three – Martin, his mother Mary and sister Marcy – and co-owns Martin’s father Bumblebee, who has sired 36 champion dogs.

Dante

Papillon is the French word for butterfly. Papillon dogs are so named because their ears spread out like butterfly wings. Nancy and Allan Duke, of Camelot Kennel in Manchester, are bringing their 3-year-old Papillon, Dante, to Westminster this year, to compete in the toy group.

Like Zibel, the Dukes started out with a different breed, Miniature Pinschers. They lost their hearts to Papillons a few years later. “Game over for the min-pins,” Nancy Duke says. She now owns nine Papillons.

Like a true show dog, Dante wants to be the center of attention, she says. “When I’m on my laptop or phone and he wants my attention, he paws at it and pushes it away,” she says. This will be Dante’s third appearance at Westminster.

Duchess

Duchess is a 3-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog owned by Diana Deyette, of High Castle Kennel in Avon. Duchess’ mate, Baron, competed in the dog show’s working group last year.

Baron passed away last summer when Duchess was pregnant with nine puppies. His widow is carrying on, going again for the win. One of Duchess’ and Baron’s pups, Bourbon, lives with Deyette, too.

Deyette has loved Bernese dogs for about 15 years. “The breed is addicting,” she says. “Once you have one you can’t not have one.”

WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW will be shown on FOX Sports, FS1 and NatGeo WILD Feb. 11 to 13. Each night’s broadcast begins at 8 p.m., and the Best in Show competition is aired Feb. 13 from 8 to 11 p.m. You can find the schedule and more information at westminsterkennelclub.org/

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