Westminster bound

When Sandy, Keith and Scout Mallinson head to New York City next month they won't be going shopping. Instead, Scout, the couple's five-year-old Newfoundland will be heading to Madison Square Gardens 130th Annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

The Westminster Kennel Club is America's oldest organization devoted to purebred dogs. First established in 1877, its influence has been felt through its famous all breed, benched dog show. The show is America's second longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby.

Now not just any canine can compete in this prestigious show. In order to qualify to enter the animal must already be a recognized conformation champion. And then only 2,622 entries are accepted.

Canines attending the Feb. 13 to 14 event this year come from 48 different states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Puerto Rico. Leading the way with the most entries are California (277) and New York (249). and Connecticut (117). The entries include nine dogs from Hawaii and three from Alaska and one from Puerto Rico.

Scout, professionally known as VN Ch Nashau-auke's Partial Eclipse, will be competing with 20 other fellow Newfs in his class.

In order to be the top winner at Westminster a canine must first win his group, such as the Working Group, and then proceed to competing against all the Group winners for the top spot.

Top breed entries include Samoyeds and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels each with 42 entries. Golden Retrievers and Rhodesian Ridgebacks with 39 each, Australian Shepherds with 35 and French Bulldogs with 30. Dachshunds have 75 entries in three varieties, and Poodles, also with three varieties, have 47.

Keith said he believes that most of the Newfs entered only have conformation titles.

"Most of the Newfs there are just show dogs. I'm hoping they take note of all the other stuff and take an interest in Scout," he said.

He was referring to the impressive list of accomplishments that Scout has obtained including the Water Rescue and draft titles. (See info box)

"We do the working stuff to keep the instinct alive in him," he said.

According to the official website for the giant breed owners are encouraged to work with their dogs in these areas to maintain the natural instincts of rescue work.

As far as what glamour work needs to be done before the big event Sandy said the preparation actually begins a few weeks before hand.

"A couple of weeks before the show he will be completely brushed out, bathed, blow dried and trimmed," she said.

"A few days before the event he will get another bath and the day of the show he will be trimmed and fluffed out," she said.

While the Mallinson's will be at the show with Scout, a professional handler familiar with the breed will be strutting with the giant dog around the show ring..

The Mallinson's are confident that Scout will be judged on all his attributes.

"The judge who is judging Newfs had his Newf win Westminster two years ago. He really knows Newfs," Keith said.

While the entire Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is not viewable on television the winning groups will be televised on USA television station both evenings of the event.