(WTNH) — A Connecticut family will be competing with their dog for Best in Bread at the Westminster Dog Show this year.
Last year, nearly 3,000 dogs competed to win Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. Typically, the annual dog show takes place in February in New York City, but this year, due to COVID-19, Westminster will be held June 12 and 13 at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York.
There will be an adorable new face at Westminster this year, Eastern Waters’ Wind On The Weskeag–but at home, he goes by Keagan.
Keagan is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who will compete to win Best in Breed before hopefully moving on to show in the Sporting Group.
With his owner and handler, Doreen Palmer, he will be competing with the best of the best as the judges look for very specific features and standards.
“From here, he should look like he’s set up with his front legs underneath him, and they’re not angled,” said Doreen Palmer, who is showing for the first time at Westminster.
“Every breed has a standard. It’s a written standard, which describes all the qualities of that breed,” explained Terry Hundt, a Westminster Dog Show judge.
Hundt was a professional dog handler for an impressive 25 years before retiring and becoming a judge at the Westminster Dog Show. 2020 was Hundt’s sixth year judging at Westminster.
She judged the Sporting Group, where she picked Daniel the Golden Retriever as the winner to move on to Best in Show.
“When you’re first going over the dog, first of all, you’re looking at their outline. It’s kind of a beauty contest–let me see what they look like standing still,” said Hundt.
Then the judges will look at the more intricate features; from the head, to the shoulders, to the tail.
“They’re looking at the angle here; the upper and lower thigh,” said Palmer. “They’re looking at what his head looks like from the side…the length of his neck…his ears….showing the bite.”
Hundt added, “Judging is supposed to be according to the standard, sometimes it gets to be a little subjective. I might like a different type of Golden Retriever than another judge. Or I might not look for certain things in that Golden that another judge does look for, even though we’re all on the basic form.”
And it’s also about how the dog moves, making sure they look forward with the perfect trot.
That perfect trot comes with a lot of training. Keagan goes to a special conditioning facility where he runs for approximately 16 miles at a 7 mile-per-hour pace to stay in show shape.
Of course, he also stays in shape doing what he does best–retrieving–chasing his favorite ball or jumping in the water to fetch a training dummy.
But no matter the outcome at Westminster, Doreen and Gary Palmer will be proud of their pup and all he’s accomplished to make it this far.
“It would be beyond thrilling [to win Best in Show] but it’s a thrill to go and show. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing,” said Palmer.