AP NEWS

Handler taking 4 dogs to Westminster show

February 10, 2018

When the Super Bowl of dog shows kicks off Monday in New York City, Fort Wayne will be represented. Handler Greg Wessel of Fort Wayne will show four dogs with local connections at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which ends Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

One of the dogs, a 4-year-old dogues de Bordeaux named Luther, has a chance to bring home some hardware, Wessel said. The mastiff was awarded best in specialty as part of the Old Fort Cluster Dog Show at Memorial Coliseum last year.

“He has a really good shot at winning best of breed (at Westminster),” Wessel said. “He’s a perfect example of the breed, from structure to temperament. He’s a gentleman. He’s impressive.”

Westminster has drawn top dogs to its show for 142 years, and it is the second-longest continually held sporting event in America, according to its website. Only the Kentucky Derby predates it.

The first show in 1877 featured entries in 35 breeds and a “miscellaneous class,” the website says. The show has grown to be a televised event, with trick shows, junior showmanship competitions and dozens of dog breeds.

Wessel said he’s been going to the show for about 35 years. With Luther, he will show Jackson, a 5-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever; Nessa, a 5-year-old Belgian tervuren; and Olive, a 3-year-old English springer spaniel.

Wessel owns Nessa, who has competed at Westminster and won an award of merit. He showed the dogs this week at the Indy Winter Classic Dog Show in Indianapolis.

“It’s something that we live for,” he said of the competition.

Joy Chicatelli bred Luther, and she shares ownership of the dog with a family in Michigan. A lawyer in Akron, Ohio, she said next week’s Westminster show will be Luther’s first.

“A number of his relatives have been,” she said. “It’s absolutely electrifying. It’s a madhouse.”

Events Monday and Tuesday will be broadcast on National Geographic WILD and FS1 and streamed at Fox Sports GO and www.westminsterkennelclub.org.  

mleblanc@jg.net