BEST IN SHOW: The 2007 Best In Show Trophy at the Westminster Dog Show was awarded Diamond Jim, an English Springer Spaniel from Fairfax Station.
Courtesy photo/Westminster Kennel Club
A 6-year-old English Springer Spaniel from Fairfax Station brought home the Best in Show title from the 131st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York Feb. 13.
Ch. Felicity’s “Diamond Jim,” also known as “James,” won the Sporting Group, then was selected as overall number one from the 2,628 champion-only purebred show entries. That will earn him lot of his favorite chicken and garlic treats. Westminister is the most prestigious dog show in the United States, but James also picked up Best in Show in December at the AKC/Eukanuba National in Long Beach, CA. and has won a sum total of 51 such awards.
Trainer Kellie Fitzgerald of Bear, Del., showed the dog for owner-breeders Teresa and Allen Patton. Teresa owns and runs the Felicity Dog Training School in Fairfax Station, and her husband teaches at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. Needless to say, they were thrilled as James and family celebrated at the post-win lunch at Sardi’s, the well-known Broadway landmark in NYC. Fitzgerald, James’ second mom, described his personality as “bubbly.”
Like most other dogs, James enjoys playtime with a squeaky toy or Frisbee. Teresa, who is thrilled that James will be moving back to Virginia from Delaware, where he’s been training, has signed him up for dance lessons. Why not? “He loves the music,” she said. It’s not just “show.” James is a certified therapy dog and works with Alzheimer patients. Next on his agenda is retirement and full-time therapy work.
Two other Fairfax competitors also competed at Westminster. Lisa Knock and two friends, Sara Keim and Barbara Vitarelli, of Tri Sorts Belgian Malinois in Vienna showed their dogs in the herding category. Knock, 47, whose mother, Carol Knock, started the kennels 30 years ago, grew up in the family business. Now, she works full-time as an engineer in the Navy, but calls training and showing dogs her passion. She and her parents have trained some 32,000 dogs, and of course, the owners as well.
Knock favors the Belgian Malinois because “they are incredibly smart, clean, somewhat sensitive but not wimpy.” She added, “The dogs are versatile and do therapy and search and rescue work. They’re wonderful with children but they’re not stuffed animals.”
The Knocks breed for temperament, beauty and structure, but they also want a dog who is sound mentally and physically. “We get attached to them and we want them to go to a good home before the show circuit,” said Knock.
“My dogs love being in the show. They love the attention. They want to please their people so much,” Knock explains. “They also enjoy sleeping in my bed in my hotel room. It’s that extra time we have together. Each is a member of the family.”
“It’s like football — you’re only as good as your last win,” said Knock, whose Hot Ticket (named after rocker Bruce Springsteen) won Best in Breed at Westminster in 2004. The Knocks have bred more than 60 champions. “That encourages us to come back. It’s a labor of love, said Knock. “You’re always learning – every show.”