For those in hockey, it’s the Stanley Cup.
For the CFL, it’s the Grey Cup.
For the world of dog showing, the Westminster Kennel Club is the premier event for the elite in each breed.
This year, a cocker spaniel named Sirius, whose full registered name is BIS MBISS Am GCH Can CH Aladdin’s Sirius Blak N Tan, made the trek to New York for the prestigious show.
Sirius is bred and owned by longtime breeders Carol and Rob Edwards of Aladdin Cocker Spaniels in Lavington, outside Vernon.
The letters in front of Sirius’ name indicate he is the winner of both Best in Show and Best in Specialty Show titles, which are wins specific to his breed. The others refer to his champion titles in both Canada and the United States.
Since July, Sirius has been in the United States with professional handler Marlene Ness racking up points and ribbons.
“He’s a young dog, only 20 months, so he’s done very well. It’s pretty fantastic. I’ve been in cockers for 30 years and you always dream you will have a dog that can go to Westminster, so it was a tremendous thrill,” says Carol.
In addition to grooming, show ring training and conditioning, dog showing is also about that ‘it factor’ that draws the judge’s eye. And with only a few minutes to make an impression, every move counts. For this reason, Carol watched her dog while hiding from his view.
“The last thing we wanted was for him to spot me and lose his mind. So I hid somewhere that I could see him but he couldn’t see or smell me.”
While Sirius didn’t take the best of breed ribbon, he showed he was competitive with the top dogs in his breed from around the world. And this was from a puppy who was almost placed in another home. Edwards already had two male show dogs and was a bit reluctant to add a third. She also felt she might be biased because the black colour with the tan facial markings is her favourite colour variety, and reminds her of another very special cocker she owned years ago.
“I knew he was a nice puppy, but I wondered if I was looking at him that way, just because the black and tan touches my heart. But everyone I knew kept telling me how nice he was, so he stayed and became my first-ever best in show dog,” she laughs. “At least he isn’t the one that got away. And he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”
Sirius returned with Carol from his U.S. show career and will now continue to show in Canada.
“We’ll see what happens,” says Carol. “He’s already done way more than I ever dreamed.”
While Sirius is enjoying some downtime, so too is the region’s most famous member of the canine set, Miss P, the beagle from Enderby who actually won the Best in Show title at Westminster in 2015.
Miss P’s breeder Lori Crandlemire says she spent this year’s Westminster watching at home with Miss P on the couch. The adorable beagle has now moved on to a new career, that of a stay-at-home mom. Since her win, she has now had a litter of puppies – five boys.
“She’s a wonderful mom and is loving retirement,” says Crandlemire.
All the puppies were spoken for and have gone to homes across North America.
But one has remained in Enderby in hopes of a show career of his own. His name is Boss and Crandlemire hopes to begin his show career in the spring.
Puppies can be shown after they are six months old, but most dogs do not come into their prime as show dogs until fully mature.