Best of breed at Westminster hails from Fredonia

By SHIRLEY PULAWSKI

OBSERVER Staff Writer

A local canine has an international claim to fame after the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City this year.

While Best in Show was taken by Banana Joe, an affenpinscher of Tani Kazari kennel in Holland from the toy group, a dog owned by Jeffrey and Rebecca Arch of Fredonia took Best of Breed for the Irish setter group. The two did not return a call for comment, but according to the WKC website, Jeffrey was the handler of their dog, Northwinds First Reign.

The Irish setter group is part of the larger sporting group, for which judging took place on the second day of the show. Westminster Media Consultant Tilly Grassa explained the Best of Breed portion of the judging is an early step toward competition for Best of Show.

“During the day the dogs compete in what is called ‘the classes.’ Dogs that are not yet champions compete. Each sex has its own competition and the winner of the males and females competes against the champions from which the Best of Breed is selected,” she explained.

At night, the show moves to its usual location. Grassa said, “Each BOB comes to Madison Square in the evening for the group competitions, which is divided by seven groups – hounds, herding, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and sporting. The winner of those seven groups competes for Best in Show.”

Madison Square Garden hosted the annual televised competition on Feb. 11 and 12, but a new location was chosen for daytime judging events. Piers 92/94 on Manhattan’s west side was the selected venue for increased capacity.

According to WKC’s website, “The move to the Piers, and the resultant increase in space – in particular, benching space that has been lost recently due to Madison Square Garden’s transformation – allows Westminster to increase its entry limit to 3,200 dogs for the first time since 1991.”

The entire 50-minute video showing the Irish setter breed judging portion of the show can be viewed by going to www.westminsterkennelclub.org/videos and selecting the sporting group, then Irish setter judging. The Arch’s Northwinds First Reign, the winner of the competition, can be seen being selected by the judge around the 45-minute mark.

Comments on this story may be sent to spulawski@observertoday.com