Avoca Couple’s Bulldog Is Headed To Westminster
AVOCA — Elsa, a champion English bulldog from Avoca, is preparing to appear in one of the world’s most famous dog shows.
Her owners, Joe and Laura Alexander, are hoping for a series of big wins, up to and including “Best in Show” at the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
“It could happen, absolutely. You go there to try to do your best and see what happens,” Joe Alexander, 52, said. ”Everybody goes to these to win. You don’t go there to lose, of course.”
The 142nd annual event kicks off Monday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Elsa and nearly 3,000 other dogs are taking part in the competition.
She’s scheduled to take the stage early Monday afternoon to compete against other female bulldogs. If successful, she’d vie against the male winner. Should she win the breed, she’d compete on national television on Monday night. Bulldogs compete in the non-sporting category — one of the seven breed groups — against dogs like poodles and Boston Terriers.
The couple trains Elsa themselves. Laura Alexander is Elsa’s handler.
Joe Alexander said the judges have many criteria they use to give a dog a score.
“It’s the look. It’s the way she moves, the way she’s built, if she’s balanced, the way she acts in the ring,” he said.
The dog show touts itself as the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the country, bested only by one year by The Kentucky Derby horse race. It notes the event pre-dates the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, the zipper and manned air flight.
Joe Alexander thinks Elsa and his wife will do just fine on the big stage. Either way, they’ll be content because Elsa is a “pet first,” he said.
“A lot of people run it as a business. They figure if the dog is not winning they could sell it or give it away. But that’s not the case here,” Joe Alexander said. “She is family first, a pet first. Whatever she does inside the ring is icing on the cake.”
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