Entering the obedience competition at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 2019 on Monday, Linda Brennan was quite confident.
You see, Brennan, a dog trainer in Columbia, in Warren County, has been at this rodeo before. Not only that, Brennan and her dog, Heart, have emerged victorious not one, not two, but Three times. In fact, in the history of the Masters Obedience Championship in Westminster, no other dog has taken the title.
Indeed, like a true champion, Heart, 6, entered the ring at Pier 94 in Manhattan and expertly demonstrated excellence in obedience, which made the judges win the first prize once again.
Heart took out a rare feat: a mob of four, although all the dogs seemed to be interested after his victory was the garish toy that a photographer pressed to get his attention.
The coveted silver trophy? She smelled it just to make sure it was not, in fact, a bowl of food.
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Westminster Kennel Club will award its highest award, the best in show, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where the race of group races begins on Monday night (the program airs from 7:30 pm to 11 pm both nights at Fox Sports 1). There are 2,879 dogs competing in the traditional breed show of 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. California claims the highest number of entries with 248 dogs, while both New Jersey and Florida host the fourth largest group of competitors, with 173 per piece.
The obedience competition, which emphasizes and celebrates the bond between the dog and the owner, became part of the New York dog show in 2016. Westminster, which is now in its 143rd year as a show of races, what some They call the Super Bowl Dog Show: introduced obedience after adding an agility competition in 2014, which makes it the second Westminster event that allows mixed-breed dogs.
But Heart, the four-time champion, is a purebred black Labrador retriever. And he recovered it, in a five-minute freestyle routine inspired by the 1956 French film "The Red Balloon".
By order of Brennan, Heart searched for a large red balloon several times, jumping, spinning, spinning, sitting and staying in a penny. To be successful in obedience, dogs must clear obstacles in the owner's instructions and demonstrate "odor discrimination," that is, the ability to detect the owner's smell on an object and remove it from a group of items. To show this ability, Heart retrieved the red balloon from a packet of other balloons. He also jumped over an obstacle with the balloon rope in his mouth, the red balloon moving behind it.
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"I really liked my routine this year," says Brennan, 54. "I really felt like I was really good and tight, so I expected that we would achieve as well as I had imagined and we did, so I was very happy with that."
Brennan, who works as a dog trainer at Top Dog Obedience School in Flanders and owns a dog training video business called Barking Dog Video, has accumulated nearly 30 years of experience in the field. She says it took a month to put together the routine of Heart, although the dog, whose resume also includes an appearance on "Saturday Night Live", is a professional who quickly realized the elements he had previously performed.
"She thinks it's funny to do these weird things that we do not do the rest of the year," Brennan says, noting that other obedience contests do not usually allow such creativity.
The official full name of Heart is OTCH Rhumbline & # 39; s Once in a Blue Moon, UDX9, OGM, BN, GM, SEE, RE, JH, ACT1, SCN, CGC, TKI. All those acronyms at the beginning and end of the name refer to their many titles as competitors (OTCH, for example, is a obedience test champion).
The Jersey champion was not the only local dog that competed in obedience. Several Jersey teams adopted fantastic themes in their own freestyle routines, which reached the end of more than six hours of competition.
Annette Flippen of Mercerville and her dog Chloe embraced a theme of "X-Files", complete with FBI jackets and small aliens and a UFO that Labrador retrieved for its owner. (The full name of the dog's competition includes "I Want to Believe," a mantra from the television show.) Kim Somjen and his border collie, Chill, devised an established routine as a dance competition, while Kathleen Walker, of Flemington, and his border collie, Drake, went with a theme of racing cars, including checkered flags. . Jennifer Evans of Jackson and her border collie, Edith, talked about Harry Potter: the dog wore a wizard's hat and a magic wand in his mouth while Evans put on the Hogwarts outfit.
After the end of the obedience competition, Brennan prepared to take Heart to Madison Square Garden, where the dog will once again receive the trophy as part of the nightly show.
"There are about two hours where she is on the bench and the general public can come and caress her," says Brennan. "She thinks it's the best part of the story. Two hours of being caressed is his idea of a great reward. "
So, is the game of the heart for round five? So far, the perspective is good, says Brennan. A fifth victory would be a little sweeter for a different reason, she says.
"If we won it for the fifth time, we removed the trophy."
The canine exhibition of Westminster Kennel Club 2019 will air from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. On February 11 and 12 on Fox Sports 1..
Do you have any advice? Amy Kuperinsky can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or in Facebook.
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