If you don't know by now that Zero won Best of Breed at Westminster Kennel Club then you have probably been on vacation in Tibet! I think this win makes him the very first Canadian-bred Ridgeback to win Best of Breed at The Garden. The entry was the highest it's ever been for Ridgebacks and this year was the highest breed entry in the entire show; there were only 4 or 5 absentees which means he defeated at least 50 of some of the top winning Ridgebacks on the continent including previous year's Garden BOB winners, National Specialty winners and Best in Show winners. It's kind of a big deal.
The judge, Espen Engh was efficient and clearly knew exactly what he was looking for. He examined the dogs quickly but gave every single one its fair share of attention. He made his cuts quickly and wasted little time repeatedly moving the dogs - I think Zero only did the down and back twice. I'll be honest, when he made the first cut I was thrilled - all along I've been saying that was my goal - to show well, look good, and hopefully make the first cut. Making the second cut was something I could hardly believe, then he made the third cut and remained one of only 8 dogs in the ring so I knew he was almost certain to get an Award of Merit. The judge pulled Zero out with a dog named Beau and had them move around together and then free stack. Zero nailed it and looked fabulous. They were then asked to return to their places while the judge did one final walk down the line, stood and then pulled out Zero first, then his Best of Opposite and then the Awards of Merit. I thought I was going to pass out and when he moved them and then pointed at Zero for the Breed. I jumped around and screamed like a 12 year old - there's even video proof of it!
I will admit to having a suspicion during judging that Mr Engh liked Zero a lot. He always took what I thought to be an extra moment with Zero every time he walked up the line. I didn't dare, at the time, to allow myself the luxury of thinking he especially liked Zero because there is absolutely no predicting what a judge will do no matter how much he looks at your dog. The win is also gratifying because the judge is foreign and therefore politics are hard to blame for any wins or losses, he doesn't know who 'should' win. He was pleased to hear that Zero was the #3 Ridgeback for 2010 and that he was still young, lots of future for this boy that's for sure!
I grew up watching this show and knowing Best of Breed at The Garden is the pinnacle for many breeders, owners and handlers. Placing in group is simply gravy on one of the best meals in dog shows you can ever be served. Often only the well known top winning dogs will be pulled and placed in group but Zero did us all proud by showing what a relaxed, calm and stable boy he is and showed his heart out - expertly guided by Erin who looked fabulous on TV! These past few days would not have been possible without Erin who's 'special' Special is far exceeding any of my expectations and I'm pretty sure she is also a little surprised! Big huge thanks to Juliet too who has shown Zero to most of his wins ... I'm sorry you couldn't make it to this one but maybe next time!
Instead of drowning blogger with photos I thought I'd simply publish the links to the online albums for my trip ... it was simply ... spectacular and I highly recommend it, especially if you can pull off a Best of Breed win at Westminster!
New York on Saturday
New York on Sunday
Here is the link to the breed judging video, if you make it to the end you'll see me, in the blue turtleneck and red hair in a pony tail, practically passing out and then freaking out when he won ... I'll never forget it! Enjoy!
WKC Ridgeback Breed Video