HAIR, THERE, EVERYWHERE—Reagan wins a competition this month in Palm Springs. Below, the prized pooch receives attention from owner Pamela Francis. Courtesy of Scott DavisReagan, a 2 ½ - year- old black standard poodle fromCalabasas, will be going to the Westminster Kennel Club’s 138th annual dog show in New York City on Mon. and Tues., Feb. 10 and 11.
The Westminster Kennel Club is dedicated to the showing of purebred dogs. First held in 1877, the dog show is America’s second-longest, continuously held sporting event after the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875.
Reagan will be among hundreds of dogs from across the country that will compete in the two-day event.
“I’m so thrilled to see him perform in the ring,” said Pamela Francis, who adopted Reagan in July 2011. “It’s an honor to take an animal to the Westminster dog show. He just loves to show.”
SYLVIE BELMOND/Acorn NewspapersFrancis and her team of dog groomers and handlers have devoted hundreds of hours to helping Reagan become a show champion.
In addition to developing his obedience skills and physical traits, caretakers spend hours each week grooming the dog.
“For a poodle, it’s really spa day every time they get on the table. He enjoys the attention,” Francis said, adding that the unusual continental poodle cut is designed to show the athleticism of the dog.
Poodles were bred to retrieve fowl from the water, but their thick fur caused them to sink. So their owners began trimming the fur, leaving pompoms on the legs and body to protect the joints and inner organs of the dog.
Francis, who is retired from the real estate industry, said she enjoys the camaraderie with people in the dog show world. She had owned two other standard poodles, but Reagan is her first to compete in dog shows.
At 9 months, the puppy won top honors in every class at the Indio Polo Grounds in La Quinta, Calif.
He then finished in seven shows to become a “ puppy champion” for his movement and carriage.
For the next year, Reagan was allowed to frolic and enjoy being a puppy while learning a few lessons along the way.
“Most successful show dogs live a life on the road with their handler. But Reagan lives with me. He’s my family pet,” Francis said.
In June last year, the dog participated in a series of weekend events in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to see how he would do in adult competitions.
“Puppy champions do not always do as well in the show ring after they grow up, so after a year of hair growing and fun and frolicking, we decided to give it a shot just to see what he could do,” Francis said.
The dog won many Best of Breed awards, defeating other champions and racking up a majority of the points needed to earn the Grand Champion title, Francis said.
Reagan also did well in a later competition in Pleasanton, and subsequently won four Best of Opposite Sex awards next to the top winning female standard poodle in the country. That dog, Allie, has more than 120 Best in
Show wins and is favored to win the breed at Westminster this year.
In January, Reagan again attended shows at the Indio Polo Fields, where he won a major award toward his grand championship.
“Reagan is obviously beautiful. He’s a very hyper and happy dog,” said Louis Katayama, a junior at CHS who helps to train Reagan in between shows.
Louis, who has a dog-walking business, said his job is to keep Reagan fit. He and the dog run for 30 minutes each day.
“He’s always focused on the run and keeps a good posture,” Louis said. “It’s a lot different than other dogs that sniff around and do their business. Reagan carries himself well and he obeys very well. He knows what to do.”
The teenager’s outings with the poodle don’t go unnoticed.
“It’s not every day that you see a poodle with (that) kind of classic haircut. Definitely, people love it, and it stands out from the norm,” Louis said.
Reagan’s caretaking team also includes Carlton B.Tucker, a professional handler who takes over during shows, and a squad of groomers.
“It really is a whole team that takes care of the dog,” Louis said. “Dogs love attention, and Reagan is no different.”
Francis said she looks forward to seeing Reagan and Tucker in the ring.
But win or lose, the dog will always be her beloved pet.