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home : blogs_old : quad-city creature blog February 5, 2016

Quad-City Creatures
By Heidi Dahms Foster, Prescott Valley, Arizona
A local blog all about pets and pet activities in the quad-city area.PV, Prescott and beyond.
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blog: Westminster dogs: these canines do a lot more than just look good

Seth Wenig/The Associated Press
Russell Terriers are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11.

It's one of my favorite events of the year! On Monday and Tuesday, a passel of dog lovers and their pooches will find the nearest big screen TV and settle in to see if they can pick the winners in the longest running sporting event in America - the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

I always look for the story inside the story, and the Westminster Kennel Club website is a bonanza of information. I found one page that tells the tales behind some of this year's competitors. Among them is an American Eskimo Dog that in Dec. 2011 was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma. "Joey" recovered after surgery and chemotherapy, and this year will appear at Westminster.

On the other hand, there's Rosita, a Xoloitzcuintli (don't ask me to pronounce that. This is why I write instead of announce). Rosita visits children undergoing cancer treatment. Because Xoloitzcuintlis are hairless, the kids can identify with her!

Elmo is a tiny hairless Chinese Crested dog. Elmo is owned and loved by a 6-foot, 300-lb. body builder and emergency room charge nurse in Texas. I don't think anyone would dare tease him about his little pup. "I am very mean-looking and you would never think I own such a prissy dog. But I am a really nice guy, though," Chris Chirdo said.

Many of these beautiful show dogs also are therapy dogs. One Bernese Mountain Dog, Juliette, was part of the second therapy dog team allowed into nearby Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December, where she helped bring some healing to traumatized children and adults.

Some of the Westminster entries overcame some daunting odds to compete this year.

Komondor Chauncy went through Superstorm Sandy with his owners, a couple of miles from nearby beach communities that were devastated by the storm. The couple and Chauncy were without power for two weeks, but came through just fine.

CJ, a Newfoundland, was paralyzed as a puppy, and healed enough to be adopted out as a family pet. But after a year, he had completely recovered and is now the No. 1 Newfoundland in the country in AKC dog show standings.

I was reading along and enjoying all of these stories, but then I came to the one that made my hair stand on end.

Nando, a Leonberger, in August 2011, spotted a squirrel outside, jumped through a window, climbed a fence and a roof and escaped. An animal control officer found him an hour later and because he was too large for a crate, double-tied him into the truck to return to his owners. Then the police began receiving frantic cell-phone calls saying the rescue vehicle was dragging a dog down the highway. Nando had broken one tie and pushed out the window and was being dragged! The officer jumped out and found Nando dead. He gave the dog CPR and rushed him to a nearby emergency veterinary hospital. Nando was in shock with all four legs and his left side stripped of skin. Unbelievably, he survived. After several surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment, Nando returned to the show ring in 2012.

Don't forget to tune in and look for your favorite breeds on Monday and Tuesday, or check out the action as it happens on live streaming video from Madison Square Garden. This year, Westminster even has an app you can download to your mobile device so you can follow the action as it happens.

You can find all of this information at westminsterkennelclub.org, where I came across these stories. (Someone has a great job, researching and writing stories about awesome dogs!) Be sure to email me at hdfoster@prescottaz.com with your comments about Westminster, and I'll post them with another blog or two as the big day approaches!

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