Local dog owners discuss experiences at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
The reward was a steak dinner.
That’s the meal Eastwood, a 3-year-old Rottweiler, was treated to after her performance at the 142nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week in New York City.
Eastwood received a ribbon and medallion for finishing as select female out of 31 dogs in the breed. It was her third Westminster show.
There was a tense time during the competition when she was re-evaluated, says owner Hollee Russell of Harrison City. But Eastwood and handler Jaime Scott performed well on the biggest stage, Russell says.
“It was a little too drawn out for me, but it is so nice to come home with a ribbon,” Russell says. “But she did great. She also made a lot of friends in New York City and was little miss congeniality. It is so prestigious, because the top of the top dogs go to Westminster.”
The Westminster Kennel Club, established in 1877, is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the breeding of purebred dogs.
The event welcomes more than 2,900 dogs in 202 breeds and varieties. The top canine was Flynn, a bichon frise who was awarded Best in Show.
Striker comes in 2nd
Eastwood wasn’t the only local dog to do well. Regina Beinhauer’s 6-year-old cocker spaniel Striker finished second in the sporting group after winning his breed.
Owned by Regina Beinhauer of Peters and Carolee Douglas, Striker competed for a second time at Westminster. He also won his breed last year. Beinhauer, who has been a breeder for more than 30 years and has worked with rescues, credits handlers Mike and Linda Pitts, who were with Striker at Westminster.
“He was flawless,” Beinhauer says. “He was spectacular. He was asking to win. He was the only dog in the show asking to win. I was thrilled with his performance.”
The competition didn’t turn out the way Sally O’Neill of Lower Burrell would have liked. Her 6-year-old Irish setter sisters — Kennedy and Rooney — came back without ribbons. That may be attributed to the grooming area being farther away from the ring than usual which caused some stress for the dogs.
Kennedy showed last year and made the final cut in the breed. This was Rooney’s first time competing as a champion at Westminster. O’Neill has been attending Westminster for eight years.
A breeder, O’Neill says one of the keys is finding the right handlers. Haley Hesskew of New Castle is Rooney’s handler and Brendan Coleman of West Virginia is Kennedy’s handler.
“It was not a perfect experience for us,” O’Neill says. “There was not a lot of interaction with spectators, which my dogs love the interaction. Despite that, they showed well.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or email@example.com or via Twitter@Jharrop_Trib.