World’s Greatest Terrier Show: Montgomery 2009
I spent a week in hospital, struggled through two days of work, and then jumped in the car and made the seven hour journey to Pennsylvania for four days of dog shows. Stay home and recuperate? Wouldn’t think of it! This was Montgomery weekend!
The Montgomery County Kennel Club all-terrier show is the culmination of a four day series of all-breed shows, beginning on Thursday, October 1st. There is also a variety of obedience, agility and earthdog competitions which take place in the area. The first two shows are hosted by the same organization, the Hatboro Dog Club, and are held in a very picturesque park about 45 minutes or so from the Montgomery site. Expertly run by show organizer Bob Black (who is also a member of the Montgomery team), the show offers classes for all breeds, but terrier entries are by far the largest.
Hatboro One is a show charged with excitement. I was, unfortunately, at an all day board of directors meeting, so caught up on the results later in the evening. It was no surprise when America’s top dog, the Scottie Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot, topped the entry of nearly 2000 dogs at day’s end. She is owned by Amelia Musser, who, with her husband, has campaigned several top terriers in the past. The Mussers own the famous Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, rated as one of the finest hotels in the world and the size of a small village! She is handled by terrier specialist Gabriel Rangel, and was handed the top ribbon by well-known all-rounder Michelle Billings. “Sadie” was put through by Terrier Group judge Bobby Paust, an American by birth, but now resident in Sweden.
Second place in this very competitive group went to the Airedale Ch Stirling Cool Hand Luke, with third place to the Smooth Fox Terrier Ch Slyfox Sneaks a Peek. Fourth place ribbon went to the Irish Terrier Ch Fleet St Fenway Fan.
Hatboro Two looks remarkably like Hatboro One. Rings are shifted around a bit, and the entry is usually a bit larger, with nearly 2400 dogs competing on the Friday. Brazilian Marion Renato Leme Duarte did Best In Show honors, with the red, white and blue ribbon on this day going to the Airedale Ch Stirling Cool Hand Luke, owned by Tori Steele and Frank Pulice. Michelle Billings passed on the terrier group, giving second place (the red ribbon for us, not the blue) to the class Kerry (meaning not yet a U.S. champion) Cranmoss Finbar of Colinca, bred by L. Wilkinson. He is by Crufts group-winning UK Ch Torum’s Tunde Bayou, out of Granemore Dardjine, and is owned by Canadian Judith McGrath. This is a particularly impressive win, as there were over two dozen champions in competition. Group 3 went to the Irish who had placed fourth on Thursday, with Group 4 to the Norwich CH Skyscot’s Poker Chip. Thursday’s BIS winning Scottie was not shown on Friday.
Devon is the third show of the long weekend. It is geographically separated from the others, being about an hour from the Montgomery venue at the Ludwig’s Corners horse show grounds. It is the show with the most problematic layout and it suffers the worst when weather is bad. Rain early in the day threatened to turn the grounds into a quagmire, but, fortunately, the storm passed over more quickly than expected, with partly sunny weather for most of the afternoon.
Entries are usually down somewhat on Saturday, as it is the day for a number of off-site puppy and veteran’s sweepstakes, and some exhibitors choose to make it a day of rest for themselves and their dogs (shopping counts as “resting”!). Entry was still around the two thousand mark, good for our champ shows, but miniscule, I know, compared to yours.
Canadian all-rounder Virginia Lyne agreed with Thursday’s judge, giving the top spot once again to the Scottie. Group Two went to the Airedale, Group 3 to another Kerry, Ch Echo of Aran Cross The Rubicon, with Group 4 to our top-winning Sealyham Ch Efbe’s Merci Pour Le Poivre. “Merci” is one of our top terriers, and is the older full brother of the Crufts 2009 Best In Show winner, CH Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice, who is now retired to owner/handler Margery Good’s sofa. Terrier expert Jack Simm did the Group honors.
One of the high points of the day for me, and for other “old” terrier fanciers, was the appearance at the Scottie ring of legendary hander Bob Bartos. He is in his 90’s, and is as sharp as a tack. I spent a riveting twenty-or-so minutes chatting with him about a few of his legendary charges, particularly Ch Bardene Bingo and my personal favorite, Ch Westpark Derriford Baffie. We talked about old friends, now long gone, about how the breed has changed, and about the future of Scotties in particular and terriers in general. Gabriel Rangel and Bob have become close friends, and he gave Gabriel Bardene Bingo’s Westminster Best In Show lead for good luck. He made the trip, I assume, to cheer Gabriel and his lovely bitch on. When I introduced myself, he said, “I know who you are…I love reading your articles.” I’ve never been so honored in my life! Even being told, “Congratulations, you’ve passed your exams and you’re now a Ph.D.” doesn’t compare to being recognized by one of the great dog men of all time! My photo with him at the Scottie ringside is now one of my most prized possessions.
Montgomery features brace classes in all breeds, and Best Brace in Show is hotly contested. Top honors this year went to a very lovely pair of Cairns, CH Quarrydene’s Gambling Man and Quarrydene’s Black Diamond, owned by Merril Schmitt who made the trip all the way from Calgary, Canada.
For administrative reasons, Montgomery is technically an all-breed show that accepts entries only from terriers. This, I’ve been told, harkens back to the days when “group shows” were not permitted by our American Kennel Club. Therefore, top prize on the Sunday is not a Group 1, but a Best In Show. Peter Green, no stranger to British show folk, did Best In Show honors. What a year for Peter – center ring at Crufts in March (where he put up the Sealy Ch Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice) and center ring again on October 4th at the world’s premier terrier show! A quick perusal of the catalog reveals that Peter has won BIS a record-breaking eight times, most recently in 1997 with the Norwich Ch Fairewood Frolic, and he is a Crufts BIS winner as well, with the Norfolk Ch Cracknor Cause Celebre, who was usually handled in this country by his partner, Beth Sweigart. Bred by Elizabeth Matell, Beth piloted Coco to BIS at Montgomery in 2003.
Montgomery County Kennel Club Vice President the Honorable David Merriam introduced his Best In Show judge, and read a brief tribute to Dr. Jo Deubler, who ran the show, literally and figuratively, for many years, and to whose memory the show was dedicated. This was followed by an acknowledgement of how appropriate it was that Peter, one of her closest friends, was to judge the show that was dedicated to her. A moment of silence followed. Mr. Merriam’s “honorable” title stems from the fact that he is a retired judge. Yes, he’s a dog show judge, but he was a “real” judge as well.
In spite of somewhat smaller-than-usual entries in some breeds, Peter was spoiled for choice, with many of the nation’s top terriers lining the ring on Sunday afternoon. Two of the handlers, Ernesto Lara with the Airedale who had gone BIS on Friday and Roxanne Sutton with the Norfolk, excused themselves, due to a conflict of interest with the judge. They did a lap of honor and left the ring to a round of applause.
Peter’s choice for Group 1 at Westminster was the Scottie, with the Crufts BIS-winning Sealy in second place, so Sadie was the odds-on favorite to go all the way. Nine dogs made the shortlist, and then Peter commenced to put four more terriers into the history books. Starting with what we assumed was his #4 choice – a move that always causes some confusion with spectators who assume he’s pointing to his BIS – Peter pulled out the Irish, Ch Fleet St Fenway Fan, the Norwich Ch Skyscot’s Poker Chip, the Lakeland Ch Tuscaroran Champ Luna, and the Scottie, Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. At some point he rearranged his 3rd and 4th place dogs (or at least it looked that way to those of us sitting at the opposite side of the ring) and then, to much applause, gave the coveted top spot to the Scottie, making it three Bests In Show out of the three days she competed. In second place was the Lakeland, who is also usually handled by Gabriel, and is owned by Paula Martinez and Hector Luna. He was put through by Lakie expert Phillip Greenway. What a weekend for Yvonne and Gabriel and the Rangel team! Third place went to the Irish, owned by Tony Barker, Shari Boyd-Carusi and R.C. Carusi who handled him, with fourth to the Norwich, handled by Brenda Combs and owned by Caroline Dodwell.
Twenty different national breed clubs declared Montgomery their national specialty (club show) with an additional six having “supported entries.” In addition to Philip Greenway, Brits Sheila Atter and Ronnie and Kate Irving were also on the panel, with Sheila doing an entry of 113 Parsons, Ronnie Irving passing on 83 Westies, and Kate judging five Dandie Dinmont Terriers. Wire breeder Harry O’Donoghue, a regular visitor to our shores from his native Dundalk, sorted through an entry of 52 Wire Fox Terriers. It was Harry who had put the Sealy, “Charmin,” through to BIS at Crufts, where he gave second place in the Terrier Group to the Scottie.
When it comes time for Best In Show photos, dozens of spectators, owners and handlers inevitably pile into the ring. This year was no exception, and there were hugs for Gabriel and Yvonne, congratulatory handshakes for the Mussers, and much jockeying for position so that the pro photographers and fans could capture their own digital images of this year’s winners. In spite of the chaos, Gabriel and Ivonne Rangel found Bob Bartos in the crowd and included him in the official photos. Imagine – legendary breeder Buffy Stamm (whose Anstamm Kennels co-bred Sadie with Mary O’Neal), legendary handlers both past and present, and a legendary Scottie bitch, all contributing to the magic in center ring on that Sunday night. Lots of us left the ring unselfconsciously wiping our eyes.
On Montgomery weekend, that’s just as it should be!
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