2001 Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods
Show Dogs of the year Awards

The hottest ticket in town!

The hottest ticket in town! That was the response from a close friend in the USA when I enquired about the invitation I had received to attend the canine equivalent of the Academy Awards event in New York. The prestigious 47th Annual Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods 2001 Show Dogs of the Year Awards was held in the ballroom of the Southgate Tower Hotel on the evening of February 9th. The hotel is situated opposite Madison Square Garden Center which was to host the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show a few days later.

The Top Seven Dogs in the United States, who had the most group wins at American Kennel Club sanctioned shows during 2001, were invited to attend, along with their respective breeders, owners and handlers. Between them these dogs had amassed a staggering total of 729 group wins. This year was the first time that the dogs had been included in the invitations.

Whilst guests gathered in the foyer to register and partake of pre-dinner drinks and canapés the dogs who were present were photographed in the ballroom which was removed from the distraction of the excited crowd. I was accorded the privilege of examining each of the dogs present and am delighted to announce that they were all a delight to go over. It was the experience of a lifetime and I felt I was potentially going over the group winners who would be competing for best in show a few nights later.

Organised by Patie Ventre, President & CEO of Ventre Advertising Inc., who is also President/Founder of the World Canine Freestyle Organisation (WFCO. Inc), the body responsible for canine freestyle dancing competition, this glittering event was hosted by the Brand Manager of Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods, Mark Miller, who was also Master of Ceremonies. Guest Speaker was Darlene Arden, a past recipient of the Dog Writers of America Association’s Annual Award, a journalist of repute who contributes to a variety of publications both canine and feline, in addition to travel journals.

Darlene hosts her own cable television programme and is the authoress of The Irrepressible Toy Dog ( which features photographs of two of my very own ‘rare’ breeds ) . The Presenter of the Hall Of Fame Honorary Award was Peter Green, famed for his skills as a professional handler, originally from Wales and long-term resident of the USA. Peter is also a fellow Affenpinscher owner so I took the opportunity of discussing one of our shared passions after dinner with him & partner Beth Sweigart.

I was flattered to be seated on the main table along with my partner, Cindy. We were joined by Mark Miller, Patie Ventre, Darlene Arden and Deborah Wood. It was announced that this lady would be the recipient of the Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods Newspaper Awards for 2001 at the Dog Writers of America Association Banquet, which was to be held on the following evening, for her “Pet Talk” column in the Oregonian. She is the author of a book whose title is “Top Dogs Making It To Westminster” which was being launched at the show itself.

The event began with a rendition of “God Bless America” by one of the entertainers for the evening. Between courses of the sumptuous banquet the various awards were presented. The owners were presented with a limited edition of a bronze canine statue created by sculptor Ric Chashoudian. The breeders and handlers were presented with an exclusive crystal bowl engraved with the Show dog logo, event title and group designation, mounted on a walnut plinth.

No stranger

The Top Sporting Winner was the Brittany Spaniel, Ch. Magic Sir-Ly You Jest. ‘Jester’ was bred by Nichole Otterson, a young lady whose background was hunting Brittany Spaniels prior to going off to college. She missed her parents’ dogs so much she had to have one of her own and this subsequently led to her producing the current dog. As is the norm for numerous top dogs in the U.S.A. ‘Jester’ has multiple co-owners and co-breeders. Although owned by Carolee Douglas, his co-owners are Nichole Otterson, Jane Bates and Billye Callier and co-breeder is Brian Hultgren. ‘Jester’ has won 90 Sporting Group Firsts piloted by handler Clint Livingston and was campaigned at over 175 shows.

Ch. Hallmark Jolei Raggedy Andy, a Shih Tzu, is the Top Toy. ‘Andy’ is owned by Gilbert S. Kahn, a renowned judge of international repute who is no stranger to these shores, having judged last year at both Crufts and Bath. Gilbert is also Patron of South Eastern Counties Toy Dog Society here in the U.K. of which I am the Hon. Secretary. ‘Andy’ has 93 Group Firsts against his name from competing at over 135 shows in his first full year of campaigning. He is rapidly following in the footsteps of his sire, Ch. Charing Cross Ragtime Cowboy, ‘Joey’ the No. 1 Toy & No. 2 All Breeds Dog in 2000. ‘Andy’ was bred by Diane Ehricht and is handled by her husband, Luke. As Gilbert Kahn was judging at Westminster we were deprived of seeing him compete in breed and then possibly at group level against the Affenpinscher (one of my favourites, but I admit to being slightly biased!) which was declared Best of Breed by Gilbert himself.

Top Hound, Basset Hound Ch. Topsfield Bumper Cars, ‘Bumper’ or ‘B.C.’ to his friends, is owned by his breeders, Claudia & Dom Orlandi. His co-owner is Claire “Kitty” Steidel and he is handled by Bryan Martin. ‘Bumper’ has 96 Group Firsts to his credit from attending over 140 shows during the year. He travels everywhere with his stuffed animals, a pheasant and an octopus, and his tail is permanently mobile. The Orlandis currently have almost 40 hounds in their Topsfield Kennel.

Top Terrier, Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael, Hansen’s Kerry Blue. ‘Mick’, who will be remembered, amongst other achievements, for his BIS at Crufts in 2000, amassed 137 Group Firsts at 138 shows last year. His British breeders Carol and Ron Ramsey must be extremely proud of this dog since his departure from the U.K.

The Dobermann Pinscher (to give it its full U.S. title) which currently leads the Working Group with 99 Group Firsts is Ch. Deco’s Hot Fudge V Legend. ‘Edna’ a.k.a. ‘Deco’ is a super-friendly bitch and is slightly larger than the bitches we are used to seeing in the U.K. She was bred by breeders/owners Terri & William Devlin and Debra Stiner and is co-owned by Barbara Goldfein, Ken & Tricia Hughes and Michael Stiner. Her handler is Gwen DeMilta. ‘Edna’ was retired from the show ring following her BIS win at Chicago in December 2001. She started the year with a BIS & went out on a similar ‘high’ and was presented as a gift to handler, Gwen. It is anticipated that she will shortly commence maternal duties.

Ch. Surrey Spice Girl, a Miniature Poodle, leads the Non-Sporting Group with 103 Group Firsts from approx. 130 shows. ‘Spice’ is owned by Ron & Barbara Scott and is co-bred by Mrs. James E. Clark ( better known as Anne Rogers Clark, one of the leading all-rounder judges in the States who has won BIS at Westminster on three separate occasions!), Barbara H. Furbush & Kaz Hosaka. She is handled by Kaz who was first spotted by Mrs. Clark when she was on a judging trip to Japan many years ago. He subsequently went to work for Mr and Mrs Clark and has now been a permanent resident in the U.S. for over 20 years. ‘Spice’ went on to win BIS at Westminster only a few days later handled, as always, by Kaz Hosaka. It is interesting to note that all photographs which are published of ‘Spice’ are declared to be unretouched in the various publications in which they appear.

The most stunning German Shepherd I have ever seen is the current Top Herding Dog in the United States. Ch. Kismet’s Sight For Sore Eyes, HIC, TC. For information, HIC refers to Herding Instinct and TC to Temperament. ‘Dallas’ as he is popularly known by, has 111 Group Firsts out of 150 shows during 2001. He is the epitome of the standard and his movement is a joy to behold. There are not enough superlatives to describe him. Having gone over him I would be unable to do him justice in a critique! He is owned by a veritable army of people: Don & Betty Lou Wood, Jeff & Nan Bennett, Colin & Angela Howells and Mary Ellen Kish. He was bred by Robert & Mary Ellen Kish and is handled by James (Jimmy) Moses and also his wife, Sheree. ‘Dallas’ has a fondness for Kahlua & milk (I admit to also sharing his taste and can highly recommend it to you as a pleasing cocktail) and one of his co-owners, Jeff Bennett, owned Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods prior to selling it a couple of years ago to Heinz Specialty Pet Food, an affiliate of the supra-national, H.J. Heinz Company.


The seventh dog, and the reason I was invited to attend this event, was the Top Terrier, Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael, the Kerry Blue Terrier. Owned by Marilu Hansen along with husband, Darrel, and handled by Bill McFadden, assisted by his charming wife Taffe. ‘Mick’ as he is now known in the U.S. amassed 137 Group Firsts at 138 shows last year. His British breeder, Ron Ramsey, must be extremely proud of this dog since his departure from the U.K. He will be remembered for his BIS at Crufts as well as Driffield, Midland Counties, Ladies’ Kennel Association & Manchester in addition to National Terrier. Following his arrival in the U.S.A. he won the prestigious Montgomery County in 2000 & 2001, BIS at Morris & Essex Kennel Club 2000, and won the Terrier Group at Westminster last year. He was ‘the people’s choice’ for BIS at Westminster 2002 and was the subject of much multi-media speculation.

‘Mick’ broke the record for most wins by a handler, Terrier Group & Kerry Blue as a result of his success during the year. When my good friend Darlene Arden heard that we were coming to New York she was instrumental in suggesting that it might be appropriate to have a Brit report on the event and, knowing that I cover various Ch. Shows on a regular basis for Our Dogs, she recommended me to the organiser.

Obedience Trial Champion Sunfire’s Toast Of The Town UDX, a Golden Retriever, owned and handled by Lynn Heidinger, ‘Toasty’ gained 1594 Obedience Championship points during the year. He was bred by Barbara Biewer & Michael Book and he would be a worthy winner in breed classes. He was a real ‘gentleman’ when I was introduced to him and is a credit to his owner.

The Nature’s Recipe Pet Foods Sixteenth Annual Hall Of Fame Honoree was Dr. Josephine (Jo) Deubler. It was Peter Green who spoke about Dr. Deubler and he stated that if the criteria for the Hall Of Fame Honoree were to be examined it would be possible to conclude that it was written with this charming lady in mind. She is an eminent veterinarian, breeder, handler, writer, show chairperson & judge. The first female graduate of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1938, she had the Genetic Disease Testing Laboratory of that august institution named after her. She holds numerous offices, but the one for which she will be best know is that of Chairperson of Montgomery County Kennel Club Show, the world’s largest terrier show.

The final award of the evening was the Special Recognition Award to the world famous artist and photographer, Joan Ludwig, in recognition of her dedicated excellence in the field of canine photography from 1938 - 2001. She was a very familiar face at dog shows all over the United States, but especially on the West Coast, for over 60 years. She first came to fame when she photographed the film actress Barbara Stanwyck’s horses. She then became the in-house photographer for Kennel Review and here assignments included shooting dog shows and Hollywood personalities with dogs for commercials and fashion. She was given a camera by one of her famous next door neighbours, Humphrey Bogart. She has achieved near cult status amongst the dog fancy and her unique signature features on all her works.

She has amassed in excess of 500,000 photographs. Although retired for some time she was persuaded to come out of retirement in December 2001 to shoot the Kerry Blue Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael and the resulting photograph forms part of the poster of ‘Mick’ which decorated the walls of the ballroom at the event. Unfortunately she was not well enough to be able to attend to receive her award in person but Gay Glazbrook, a fellow canine photographer who considers Joan to be her mentor, accepted it on her behalf.

As a pre-cursor to Westminster, I could not have possibly had a better introduction to the glitzy world of America’s Top Dogs. Sitting in the Press Box located inside the Main Ring at Madison Square Garden a few days later, I was one of the few present who could say that they had actually gone over five of the seven Group Winners. How many reporters can say that of our own Top Dogs? I have already been invited to return to attend this event in 2003.

Watch this space!


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