Local breeder Til Niquidet is celebrating after one of her dogs, Flash, won best in breed at the Westminster Kennel Club DogShow (WKC) on Feb. 15 and 16.
WKC is the most prestigious dog show in North America. Five dogs are allowed to compete in each breed by invitation only.Anyone else who gets into the show is by lottery.
The five dogs there by invitation are always the top five winners in North America. Basically, it’s the best of the best in eachbreed.
“The dogs that Flash competed against, there was 15 duck tollers, and of those, there were several Best in Show,” said TilNiquidet, Flash’s breeder. “There was one dog that was the winner of the Canadian and the American National toller show, andhe beat that dog for Best in Breed.”
Flash is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, which is the smallest of the retrievers. This breed was developed in the early 19thcentury to toll, lure, and retrieve waterfowl.
His full registered name is European Winners 2015 Champion, Champion of Norway, Canadian Champion, American Best in Showand Best in Specialty Show Platinum Grand Champion Pikkinokka’s Lightning Bug.
“Flash himself is actually the top winning toller in the history of the breed,” said Niquidet. “He is a platinum grand champion,which is the highest level of championship within the American Kennel Club.”
He has also won five best in shows, which is a breed record.
Niquidet said it wasn’t unexpected that he could win, and the nicest part about winning is the fact that Flash is actually retired.
“He’s turning eight, and we had decided not to show him anymore. We just bring him out for the occasional show, and thishappened to be one of the ones we decided to try showing. It’s a great way to show that he’s retired, but he’s not gone.”
The WKC takes place at Madison Square Gardens, in New York City, and is aired on television as well.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Niquidet. “The people at the show wear nicer clothes, and fancy dress. I went two years ago, and you sortof shiver because of the prestige of being there.”
Because Flash won best in breed, he went on to compete for best in group.
In this case, because he’s a sporting dog, he would compete to be the best sporting dog.
The judges pick the dog in the sporting group that is the most ideal for its own breed. If you win the sporting group, you go onfor best in show and you compete against the seven best in group dogs.
Flash didn’t win best in group, but the dog that defeated him, a German short haired pointer, went on to win best in show.
When it comes to winning, many people think there are cash prizes. It’s more for prestige, and it also improves the quality ofyour breeding stock.
“If someone is looking to buy a duck toller puppy, they know that because my dogs win at dog shows, they know that I’m acareful breeder, and they can buy from me with confidence.” said Niquidet.
“It also means that other breeders who go to these dog shows can see other breeding stock. I go to the American Nationals, andI can pick my next stud dog from those shows.”
She also said it’s not always the one who wins she chooses as a stud. It might be the dog that most suits one of her females. Thefact that the dog is at that dog show gives her a chance to look at him.
When Flash competed in Europe in 2015, he was chosen to stud a litter of puppies.
When it comes to breeding, Niquidet really believes in mentorship.
“I bought my first puppy from a woman who really mentored me, and I learned so much from her,” she said. “She sold me good,quality dogs to start and she taught me everything she knows, and so I mentor people now, and I try to pass on that quality.”
Niquidet’s dogs are what are called purposefully bred. She never breeds without knowing she has families for her puppies.
She compares the differences between herself, and what she calls backyard breeders.
“The difference between a breeder who breeds with purpose, and a backyard breeder, is we’re always breeding to make a betterspecimen of any dog that we’re working with,” she said. “That includes temperament. It’s not just beauty, beauty is only part ofit.”
As far as temperament goes, Flash is a big softie, something Niquidet says you can tell just by looking at him.
“He’s got a very sweet expression, and he is just a huge mush. His job is to be a lap dog, forget this hunting dog stuff, all hecares about is being loved.”