Pooches prepare for top dog show
Eleven-year-old Emma Rogers is only six years older than her great Dane. She also is half the dog's size. But she's set to handle her dog in the ring at this year's Westminster Kennel Club show.
At 80, Marge Yonda is looking forward to leading her standard poodle. They will go through the fast-paced agility competition. It's a pursuit Yonda took up when she stopped running marathons at 73.
There's plenty of variety among the people, as well as the dogs. They will be participating in American dogdom's most prestigious event. It's scheduled in New York in February. The show will feature two new breeds. And more dogs will compete this year in an agility contest. That competition was new to the show last year. It marked the return of mixed-breed dogs for the first time since its early years.
Two new breeds added to dog show
Emma will face much older handlers. She will show a dog over twice her weight. The pooch is so big that Emma has to lift hard to position the legs of the Dane. The dog is named Joy. But Emma is unfazed by the competition.
"With Joy, she's easy, most of the time," Emma said. She appeared at a news conference with her twin sister Faith and 17-year-old sister, Sophia. They also are showing dogs at Westminster. The Columbus, New Jersey, family's pastime started with a suggestion from Joy's breeder. Mom Kim Rogers soon came to see the benefits.
"It teaches responsibility and winning and losing gracefully," she says.
Over 2,700 dogs are slated to compete in the traditional main event, breed judging. It will be at Westminster's 139th annual show Feb. 16 and 17. Two breeds will make their first appearances at Westminster. One is the coton de tulear (pronounced koh-TOHN' du TOO'-lay-ahr). The dog is an easygoing companion breed known as the "royal dog of Madagascar." The other is the wirehaired vizsla (pronounced (VEEZ'-shlah). It is a stalwart Hungarian hunting dog. It's related to the more widely known vizsla.
There are only about 2,000 wirehaired vizslas worldwide, said owner Anton Sagh. His dog Falko is entered at Westminster.
"That's why I'm trying to promote the breed," said Sagh. He lives in the Montreal suburb of Laval.
Meanwhile, the Feb. 14 agility contest will feature 330 contestants. That's up from 225 last year.
After knee surgery ended her marathon running, Yonda tried dog agility to stay active. It suits both her and her dog, Maggie. The poodle eagerly leaped jumps and pranced around poles in a demonstration Wednesday.
"It's a very intricate, complex sport," said Yonda, of Ridgefield, Connecticut. "We're learning all the time."
Critical thinking challenge: How does the article describe the variety among the people"?