An Interview with a Champion

February 14th marked the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club Show at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The winner was Rumor, a 5-year old German Shepherd. (See Rumor Has It in the last Mutts.)

Like Rumor, all of the entrants were pure-bred and champions.  In case you have ever wondered what it takes to become a champion, we interviewed one.  Meet Fiji, a Portuguese Water Dog. jan-30-fiji

Tell us, Fiji, what does it take to become a champion?

“Well you have to be born with good genes. jan-30-fiji-2 Do you think this is my good side? You have to be at least 6 months old.  This not a sport for crazy young pups.

And you have to be groomed before each show.  In my case, I have to sport a lion cut which is the Portuguese Water Dog’s standard.

portie-groomingOther breeds have their standards too. But whatever that may be, you have to try and look better than everyone else.”

You look PAWsatively beautiful

“I’ll ignore the pun.  Looks aren’t enough. You also have to have a brain.  I mean you can’t just walk into a ring and expect to be picked.  You have a lot to learn first.”

Like what?

“You have to walk properly. No lunging or barking at the other dogs. I practiced cavalettis.”


“Yes. It’s like what dressage horses do. I learned to pay attention to my feet to give me that elegant fluid look while moving around the ring. Here’s what it looks like.” 


Anything else?

“Yes, I had to learn to stack.”


“That means stand squarely like my housemate, Moose, who is also a champion.moodr-championship This is so the judge can check you. And you’d better not complain when he checks your tail, ears, and mouth. No judge wants to be barked at or bitten.”

After you learned all of that, you were a champion?

“Not so fast.  I had to go to a bunch of different dog shows and get at least 15 points from three different judges. Plus, I had to get at least two major wins – that’s 3, 4, or 5 points – from separate judges. Only then did I earn the privilege of having a “CH” (for champion) in front of my name.” 

Congratulations. That’s dog-gone incredible.

“Enough with the puns. Do you have a CH in front of your name?”

Uh, sorry.

“Here I am on the winner’s table. Notice how well I’m stacked.” 


“And here’s my AKC certificate. I spent hours, make that months, to get there. So pardon me when I say, I earned it.”


Thank you, Fiji.  One more thing. Did you think that Rumor would win?

“Of course I was cheering on The Portuguese Water Dog. But Rumor’s a great gal. I think I’ll join her for a steak at Sardis.”