From the Spectator's Seat © Kerrin Winter-Churchill
A cool wind blew through the Sycamore trees as I drove the Frenchtown Bridge across the Delaware on my way to the 64th annual Bucks County Kennel Club dog show. Held in a huge green field at Tinicum Park of Erwinna, Pennsylvania, Bucks is classic venue - an "Exhibitor's Dog Show" in the truest sense of the expression. Indeed, it is considered by many to be one of the best shows in the country. With an entry of 2974, one can hardly say it's a small show even though there is a feeling of intimacy and relaxed elegance about a day at Bucks. A snob would say "All the best dog people are at Bucks" and while I missed a few of my favorites, there is merit in the statement as certainly, some of the finest dogs in the country were in attendance, with their entourage of humans doing for them all day long.
Speaking of dogs, quality was everywhere and as the damp morning air gave way to bright sunshine, all those in attendance were privileged to a delightful day of breed judging, culminating in seven grand displays as Best of Breed winners began entering the ring for Group Competition.
At Bucks, the Herding Group was first up to go and was filled with some very worthy dogs and Mr. H. Peter Luyten really studied each specimen to reach his decision. In the end Herding Group First was captured by the soundly moving blue merle, Smooth Collie, Ch. Provenhill`s Milestone. Second went to a blue merle contender, the very typey Australian Shepherd Ch. Briarbrooks I`m To Sexy while Group Third went to another wonderfully moving Collie the Rough ti-colored bitch, Ch. Tartanside Brookwood Fiesta and Fourth Place was taken by the Old English Sheepdog, Ch. Rolling Gait Emma Blue.
Next to enter the ring was the Non- Sporting Group, judged by Mr. Enrique Jorge Fillippini who's confidence and judging style is always a pleasure to watch. With wizened eyes, he went over each specimen but nobody was surprised when in the end he gave the nod to beautiful Standard Poodle bitch, Ch. Teo Dora Da Maya, who was exquisitely presented by Chris Manelopoulos. Second in this Group was the handsome Dalmatian Ch. Merry Go Round Mach Ten while Third was won by the Schipperke, Ch. De Lamar`s Beach Blanket Baby, Fourth going to the pretty Bichon Frise Ch. Dorianns Stellaluna.
The Toy Group read like a Who's Who in dogs with some of the best in the country in the final line-up which surely made for a difficult assignment for Mr. Eugene Blake who passed on this group. In the end, he decided on the exotic English Pekingese, Livanda Va Va Voom at Franshaw as his Group First winner while the nation's number one Cavalier (All Systems as of 5/11/05), Ch. Hurleaze Bristol Blue took the Group Second spot, beating the equally ranked Shih Tzu, Ch. Hallmark Jolei Jezebell who went Third in the Group over the Number Two Brussels Griffon Ch. Gingersnap Get Out Of My Way who grabbed the Toy Group Fourth place slot.
As always, the Terrier Group was large and exciting to watch and judge, Gary L. Doerge had his hands full sorting them out. Not to be denied was the glorious Airedale Terrier, Ch. Old Iron Margaret River (that took Group 1st at Garden State All Terrier show the day before Bucks) was expertly handled to Group First by Peter Green. Right behind "the Green Team" was the colored Bull Terrier Ch. Rocky Tops Sundance Kid. Following in the third spot was the well-balanced Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Ch. Caraway Celebrate Life while Fourth was taken by the workman-like Smooth Fox Terrier bitch with the clown face, Ch. Aimhi Avalon Renaissance.
Nothing could be stronger than the Working Group in America right now and watching the procession from ringside was quite a moving experience. With quiet hands and a confidence born of long experience, Mrs. Dorothy N. Collier sorted through this incredible group of dogs. In the end, First place went to the sensational Rottweiler, Ch. Carter`s Noble Shaka Zulu who beat the sound, moving Mastiff Ch. Southports Sherman who finished 2nd in the Group. Third went to the Newfoundland, Pouch Cove`s Head Of State and Fourth was taken by the Komondor, Ch.Gillian`s Quintessential Quincy.
The Hound Group was another all-star lineup but Judge, Dr. Jacklyn E. Hungerland knew what she was looking for. Piloted by Cliff Livingston, the Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen Ch.Afterglow Woody Woodpecker was Group First. Second went to the beautiful Afghan Hound Ch. Beachbrook`s Its Raining Men, while Third was taken by the deserving thirteen inch Beagle Penelope Von Haussman. Fourth place was earned by the Borzoi Kishniga`s Love`s Labour Lost At Hi Tor.
The last Group of the day was Sporting Dogs and the spectators sat on the edge of their seats to see what Judge James Reynolds would do with these gorgeous Breed winners. What we watched was a real battle between an impeccably put down Irish Setter and a German Wirehaired Pointer so beautifully conditioned any dogman or woman would swell with pride to own him. After going over each dog, watching them move on the down and back and then, sending them all around, Reynolds finally gave the nod to Irish Setter Ch. Jewelset`s Up Up N Away who won by a thread against the Wirehair, Ch. RLb`s Mac The Knight who of course, took Group Second (but won BIS at Trenton the very next day). Third place was given to the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Ch. Fireside`s Liaison while the Welsh Springer Spaniel, Ch. Ferndel Copywrite took the Fourth place slot.
As the sun began to slowly sink into the western skies, the Best in Show line-up assembled near the ring. Soon, respected dog man, Mr. Walter Goodman (pictured at left in front of Mr. Merriam) entered the ring and with a nod, the Grand Finale began and into the ring came the Smooth Collie, the Standard Poodle, the Pekingese, the Airedale, the Rottweiler, the Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen and the Irish Setter. With an eye and style that only comes from years of experience, Mr. Goodman carefully went over each exhibit. As most of us held our breath, he looked and looked again at the Airedale, the Poodle and the Rottweiler before turning around and walking back to the table to make his final notes. Finally, Mr. Goodman faced the line-up once more, asking them all to "go round" again and with a deft gesture by the esteemed judge, history was made when the Rottweiler Ch. Carter's Nobel Shaka Zulu became the first Rottweiler to ever win Best in Show at Bucks, while at the same time, breaking his Breed's record for number of Best in Shows by a Rottweiler - not bad for an owner handler team without an advertising campaign. Who says it can't be done? All it takes is hard work, determination, handling skills ....and a very, very good dog.
One hour later, I'd said my congratulations and goodbyes and climbed into my car. As I began my long drive home, I tipped my hat to Dr. Josphine Deubler, and the rest of the organizers of the Bucks County Kennel Club. Here's a group of dog people that really know how to put on a show. I'll be back next year.....with bells on.
Photo coverage courtesy of www.DogPhoto.com