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Thursday, 03 December 2015 16:45

Montgomery County

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A glowing tribute from the American dog fancy to Mrs Dodge – in the form of 4,456 dogs entered at this year’s Madison event. This mark eclipses Crufts’ highest figure and without any doubt establishes Morris and Essex as the world’s greatest dog show.” Of course, this review of the show was written in 1939. Crufts has continued to grow and prosper, with current entries in excess of 20,000. 

Montgomery County KC Best in Show

All Terrier fanciers have one show of the year to attend in the American show calendar, Montgomery County Kennel Club. The show took place this year at Blue Bell in Pennsylvania on 4th October 2015. A total entry across all Terrier breeds of 1,656 dogs. Judging the finale of the show was Mr Clay Coady. Topping the Terriers at this years Montgomery was the Wire Fox Terrier, Grand Champion Hampton Court’s Monte Cristo, owned and bred by Victor Malzoni Jnr, from Brazil. Grand Champion Hampton Court’s Monte Cristo is handled in the USA by Leonardo Garcini. With English connections, Monte Cristo is the result of UK exports, Travella Starlord (top dog all breeds UK 2014) and Davwen Sapphire at Saredon. Monte Cristo has also had huge success in Brazil, becoming a top dog all breeds in 2013 handled by Rasera.

Morris & Essex, New Jersey Best in Show

Morris and Essex is a traditional show and held once every five years. Held in Somerset, New Jersey, the all breed show is popular for spectators, judges, handlers, and fanciers wearing hats, fascinators and for the men, Harris Tweed. Best in Show for this 2015 show was topped by the Toy Group winner, Grand Champion Pequest General Tso, the Pekingese, owned bred and handled by David Fitzpatrick, and co owned with Nancy Shapland. The Best in Show was judged by Mrs Dorothy Collier, and The General was sent through from the Toy Group by Peter Green. The UK connections are tied in with The General as he is great grandson of Ch Palacegarden Malachy with Yakee and Livanda and Palacegarden breeding behind him. David makes US history winning the Morris and Essex show twice, winning Best in Show in 2010 with Pekingese, Grand Champion Ch Palacegarden Malachy. Currently, the General is number two Toy Dog in the United States and number ten dog all breeds.

A glowing tribute from the American dog fancy to Mrs Dodge – in the form of 4,456 dogs entered at this year’s Madison event. This mark eclipses Crufts’ highest figure and without any doubt establishes Morris and Essex as the world’s greatest dog show.” Of course, this review of the show was written in 1939. Crufts has continued to grow and prosper, with current entries in excess of 20,000. 

The last Morris and Essex of the “old era” took place in 1957. A starry-eyed little ten year old totally enamored of dog shows, I was fortunate to have been there. In 1927, wealthy dog fancier Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge held a dog show at Giralda Farms, her grand New Jersey estate.

There were 595 entries. Known as the “Exhibitors’ Show,” it was planned and executed to perfection from its debut, with acres of white tenting, rolling green lawns, and well-dressed gentlemen and ladies enjoying the lunch Mrs. Dodge only included breeds that she liked. In 2000, Wayne Ferguson and other dedicated dog folk decided that the time had come to resurrect M&E and the show was held in October of that year on the grounds of the old Giralda Farms. It is such a mammoth undertaking that the show is only held every five years and, until this year, occurred on the first day of “Montgomery Week,” on the Thursday. This was made possible by Hatboro Dog Club graciously relinquishing its Thursday show date. So the festivities began on Wednesday with Hatboro I, the first show without venerable show chair Bob Black who passed away last year. There is reportedly some dissention in the club, and some of the niceties that have always made the show special were lacking. The weather report was not promising, but the rain held off and instead we were greeted with a cold, gray day.

There were fewer foreign judges than I remember, with Norway’s Espen Engh judging the Toy Group and Mrs Dagmar Pordham from Sussex also on the panel. Terrier man Ken Kauffman did Best In Show and so bets were on that he would find a terrier on this very terrier-intensive weekend. Instead, he gave the top spot to the top-winning German Shepherd Dog GCH (Grand Champion) Locknhaus Rumor Has It v Kenlyn. Reserve Best went to the French Bulldog GCH Iacta Alea Est de la Bette. She has several co-owners, one of whom is Patricia Hearst Shaw. You may remember Patty Hearst from the activist 1960’s in America. Thursday dawned cloudy as well, but no rain in sight, and so my usual travelling companion Geoff Corish and I made our way to Morris & Essex. Everyone is encouraged to wear a hat, and a number of exhibitors also donned costumes reminiscent of the show’s bygone days. It was more charming at the inaugural show in 2000, as was the box lunch for which exhibitors waited in line for well over an hour.

Trophies are sponsored by individuals and are made to resemble the original silver bowls that occasionally pop up on Ebay and other auction sites. A Best In Show assignment at M&E is truly an honor, and legendary handler-turned-judge Bob Forsyth chose the 2010 show as his finale in center ring. This year it was to have been the equally legendary Jane Forsyth but, sadly, she passed away earlier this year and was replaced by Dorothy Collier.

It was so dark by the time the final judging took place that they erected huge spotlights around the ring. Most of the handlers and bystanders had by now forgone fashion for down jackets and mufflers. Best in Show on this night went to the Pekingese Ch Pequest General TSO who was put through by Welsh expat Peter Green. Reserve BIS went to the German Shorthair GCH VJK-Myst Garbonita’s California Journey. Every Montgomery week show chair’s nightmare came true on Friday when we awoke to pouring rain and a wind chill of about 9 degrees Celsius. Of course it’s “iffy” to hold outdoor shows in October (as you folks well know!) but the weather at Hatboro II was almost unbearable! It poured incessantly from morning to night, and even a dash between grooming tents resulted in layers of sodden clothes.

As it became muddier, It was necessary to carry coated dogs, not such a trial if you’re showing Lhasas, but a bit more daunting when your Afghan needs to get to the ring from your motorhome that is half a mile away. We have no wet weather accommodation here. Folks with motorhomes, many of which are 40 feet or so in length and comfy as a house, were able to dry off and warm up and we were fortunate to be able to spend some time in a friend’s RV at midday. I was very envious until I learned later that many of them had to be towed out of the site that night. One exhibitor’s bill was reportedly 590 pounds!

They wisely moved the group and Best In Show judging into a building where terrier expert Ken McDermott did the honours. This time the top spot went to Peke GCH Pequest General Tso shown by Peke specialist David Fitzpatrick. with another Reserve for the Frenchie. Still no triumph for the terriers! We were wet through and through and chilled to the bone; we left immediately after BIS while many of the people around us found themselves bogged down in the mud. I’ve been going to shows for well over 50 years and have to say that this was one of the most miserable days I’ve experienced. People who hear about the awful weather say, “They need to have these shows indoors.” Easier said than done, as you well know. And terriers deserve to be seen outdoors, on the grass. But maybe not in the mud. As things were winding down at Hatboro word got around that the Devon show was cancelled the following day. What do you do on a bye day?

Go shopping! Geoff and I found ourselves at the huge King of Prussia mall. The parking lot was awash (no pun intended) in motor homes and other dog vehicles. Where do you park a 40+ foot RV when there’s no show to go to? Members of the Montgomery County Kennel Club had been at their site all day Saturday, making sure that the grounds were safe and workable, and they were also apparently offering prayers to the weather gods. Sunday dawned gray but warmer with sun predicted for later in the afternoon. This is technically an all-breed show, but only terriers are shown, and it is considered by many to be the most prestigious terrier show in the world. Entries are large in most breeds, with Montgomery serving as the national specialty for all but a handful of clubs.

Total entry this year was a bit over 1600, down considerably from years past, with the largest entry in Soft Coated Wheaten with 138 entered. Westies were in second place with 103, closely followed by Scotties. There were only three foreign judges listed, with Maureen Hughes making the trip from Wales to do Bull Terriers and Mini Bulls. As is true in other places throughout the world, there is usually much talk about favorites, but that didn’t seem to be the case this year. Many of the top terriers from around the country and beyond were there, and BIS judge and terrier expert Clay Coady has a reputation for “doing his own thing,” so most of us felt that it was an open field. This is one of the few shows that offers Best Brace In Show, and this time is was a repeat win by an owner-handler presenting two perfectly matched Mini Schnauzers (yes, in America they’re terriers).

If memory serves, she’s deservedly won this prize two or three times before, although some special award should be given to anyone who can lift two Glens onto the table at the same time. Of course, everyone is on pins for the final competition and, under a very welcome autumn sun, the Best of Breed winners assembled to complete for the terrier world’s most prestigious win. Mr. Coady’s ring procedure was a bit unusual, in that he originally made a not-very-shortlist of more than a dozen dogs. He then moved them again and excused a few and then whittled his final choices down to the traditional half dozen. Group 1 and Best In Show went to the Wire Fox Terrier GCH Hampton Court’s Monte Cristo.

He is by the British dog Travella Starlord out of Davwen Sapphire at Saredon, breed and owned by Brazilian millionaire Victor Malzoni and handled by Leonardo Garcini. In second place was the Airedale GCH Joval Sweet Time owned by Dr. Valeria Rickard and John Rickard, handled by Adam Bernardin. Group 3 went to the Skye Terrier GCH Cragsmoor Good Time Charlie, bred by Gene Zaphiris and Matt Stander of Dog News fame and beautifully presented by Larry Cornelius. He is also owned by Mr. Malzoni and Nancy Shaw. Fourth in Group went to GCH Yanga’s All The Time, a mini schnauzer owned by Octvio Martinez and piloted by Christian Rangel.

It’s always difficult to see all of the British fanciers at ringside, but I did spot OUR DOGS’ Carol and Ron Ramsay with Carmel O’Neil, Tony Barker rooting for his Irish, and Harold and Liz Gay who made Montgomery the end of an extensive tour of the southern U.S. Lisa Croft-Elliot was here as well and surely wins the best-hat-at-Morris & Essex award. Of course, Monday was a perfect autumn day for our drive home.

Geoff and I have travelled to Montgomery together for over 20 years and we’ll hopefully be making the pilgrimage a year from now as well. Nothing – including Hurricane Joachin - can stop terriers or their people!
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