By Pierre LaBossiere
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — A pair of Olympic Peninsula dog owners are going to the pinnacle of the dog show world, winning invitations to the prestigious Westminster Dog Show in New York City.
Hurricane Ridge Kennel Club members Susan Parr of Port Angeles and Mariko Saum of Chimacum and their dogs will be competing at Westminster today and Tuesday.
And their two dogs couldn’t be more different.
Parr is the co-owner of a a huge Bernese mountain dog named Vegas, while Saum owns a 7-pound Japanese chin named Cobeauche When You Wish Upon a Star (or Diznee for short).
They also are at different stages of their careers. Vegas, who is less than 2 years old, is just getting started on what promises to be a lucrative show career. Westminster will be Diznee’s final dog show.
As Diznee’s co-owner Saum said, “to us, Westminster is to dog shows as the Kentucky Derby is to horse racing.”
Saum said one thing that is neat about both her dog and Parr’s is that they both bred their own dogs, rather than purchasing them.
Vegas, a female, is an unusual entrant because she’s a female and because she is so young.
“It’s rare for a female [Bernese] to do well over males,” Parr said.
Berneses are huge dogs from Switzerland (named after the city of Bern, Switzerland). They’re big enough that they were used in the old days to pull carts. They compete in the “working dog group” along with breeds such as St. Bernards, Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies.
And despite her youth, Vegas has already showed she is a solid champion, said Parr.
“She kicked butt last year,” Parr said. Vegas won a number of shows last year, including back-to-back regional specialties and ended the year as the No. 2 female Bernese of the year. Out of 190 Bernese at the Colorado Bernese Show recently, Vegas won the top prize.
Parr co-owns Vegas along with Cindy Crawford-Gorwath of Lakewood.
Parr said the Westminster show is very expensive and that she would not be taking Bernese to the show if she didn’t believe she had a chance to win awards.
“It’s pretty exciting and scary, but she’s got as good of a shot as anyone out there,” Parr said.
Vegas comes from good genes as her great-grandfather Abbott was a champion Bernese and competed at Westminster in 2012, winning Best of Breed.
Saum co-owns Diznee along with Dawn Shaffett of Chimacum. Diznee is going to have a very busy weekend for the last week of his career as he will be competing in the Progressive Dog Show in New York this weekend before Westminster.
Diznee, who competes in the toy category, earned his way to Westminster. He has won three Best of Shows, he is rated No. 1 Japanese chin in All Breed and the No. 2 dog in breed. He is also ranked the No. 20 toy in the U.S.
“It’s very hard to get an invitation to Westminster,” Saum said.
This will be Diznee’s final show as he has spent almost all of 2018 competing in dog shows. Saum said many dogs continue competing into their old age, but it’s time for Diznee to retire.
“He’s going to come home and be a dog,” she said.
Japanese chins were an emperor’s dog in Japan. For many years, it was a dog for dignitaries.
Today’s Japanese chins are known as an affectionate lap dog. “It’s more like a cat. Very clean,” Saum said.
The first day of the show Monday is at Chelsea Piers for the preliminaries. Dogs making the finals will move on the Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
You can watch the show’s live stream on TV. On Monday, the Westminster website (westminsterkennelclub.org) and Fox Sports Go will broadcast the early rounds from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. National Geographic WILD will broadcast from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Fox Sports 1 will show competitions from 7:30 to 11 p.m.
On Tuesday, Westminster and Fox Sports GO will stream live from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at 1 p.m., National Geographic WILD will air live coverage from 1 to 4 p.m. FS1 will air group competitions and then the Best in Show competition from 7:30 to 11 p.m.
Diznee will be shown at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the toy group. His professional handler will be Rowan Baggenstos (Saum showed Diznee herself until 2018). Vegas will be shown at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the working group.