By Craig Koscho
Lynda Tusoni and Lhotse, her 4-year-old Samoyed, didn´t return from New York´s Westminster Dog Show with the Best of Show trophy, but they do have something to show for their efforts.
Lhotse received an Award of Merit, one of six awards handed out during her breed competition with 24 other Samoyeds.
“It´s better than walking home empty handed,” Tusoni said.
The Westminster show, considered the country´s premiere canine contest, was held Feb. 14-15 at Madison Square Garden.
Best of Show was awarded to Carlee, a 5-year-old female shorthaired pointer.
This was the first time Tusoni attended the event with her dog. Last year she went just to “scope out” the gathering.
While Lhotse has been declared top dog in many other shows, she was competing against dogs Tusoni had not seen in previous contests, so the competition was all new.
Tusoni noted that many of the dogs Lhotse previously has gone up against didn´t even make the cut for the Westminster show.
The event looks like a lot of fun on television, with the dogs and their handlers trotting about the ring for the audience and judges to see.
Tusoni tells a different story.
The Westminster competition is what´s termed a “bench show” meaning that in between judgings, your dog sits on a bench with all the other canines while the public strolls by to get a closer look at the animals.
The owners have to either stand by the dogs themselves or hire security since they don´t want anyone giving the dog too many treats or possibly mishandling it.
After Lhotse´s 10:30 a.m. judging on Tuesday, Tusoni had to stand by her side until 8 that night.
“I don´t think I´d do this again,” Tusoni said. “It´s exhausting.”
Tusoni and her husband Larry, owners of Goldrush World Access Internet service in Angels Camp, became interested in Samoyeds when a breeder asked them to build a Web site for her Samoyeds.
Larry Tusoni had owned “Sammies” before and when the couple´s springer spaniel died, they decided to pick up one of the huskies.
They weren´t originally interested in a show dog, but the dog they wanted came with a contract guaranteeing her new owners would show her at least eight times.
“We said ‘Okay, that could be fun, we´ll try it,´” Lynda Tusoni said. “And she won.”
They were hooked.
It´s an expensive hobby, Tusoni said, joking that they´ve spent as much on Lhotse as they have three years of college for their daughter.
For all that, the best you can get is a trophy.
“It´s all ego,” Tusoni said.
The Tusonis may ease back on the competitions after a few more shows they´ve committed to the next couple of months.
But while her commitment to dog shows may be decreasing, Tusoni is still sold on Samoyeds, noting they´re easygoing and easy to take care of.
“They´re a great temperament dog,” she said.
Contact Craig Koscho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission from The Calaveras Enterprise