Ruger, a local 4-year-old flat-coated retriever, took to the ring and had a good showing in his first national competition, his owners said.
Ruger is owned by Latitude Margaritaville residents James and Suzanne Brady. He competed in the 146th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on June 22 at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York.
In only four months of limited showings, Ruger had become the top-ranked dog in the country in his breed, giving him the opportunity to compete at Westminster.
“There were 27 flat coats and he made the cut of 11, but didn’t win,” James Brady said. “Ruger competed in the Sporting Dog category and did not receive any comments from the judges.”
Brady said the winner was aa flat-coated retriever named Ceilidh Wild Irish Rose, also known as Rosie.
“Ruger had competed against Rosie and has a winning record against her,” he said. “She has been showing longer than Ruger and is being shown every week.”
Brady said Ruger has competed against more dogs at one time than he did at Westminster, but the quality of the dogs was much better at the national show.
“He showed well and has beaten most of the dogs that were there,” Brady said. “The judge on that day chose another dog. It is a subjective sport.”
In an interesting turn of events, Brady said after Ruger left Westminster, he competed again and defeated the No. 1 dog in the country two out of four days in Virginia.
Brady said Westminster was a good learning experience for all of them.
“We should’ve stayed closer to the event and come in earlier and brought our handler in earlier to get Ruger more comfortable,” Brady said. “We would have brought the handler’s daughter up to do the grooming. She is a groomer extraordinaire and has a calming presence. It all felt rushed.”
Ruger is working toward placing in the top five in his category again to get an invitation to compete in his second Westminster next year. Brady said they hope it will be back at Madison Square Garden.
Brady offered some advice for those who might be interested in showing their dogs.
“You need to enter your dog in shows,” he said. “Every time they are in the ring is good experience. Don’t get discouraged when you lose. Tomorrow is another day with a different judge.”
Brady said overall they were happy with Ruger’s appearance on the national stage.
“We are happy that he did as well as he did,” he said. “Just getting to Westminster is a major accomplishment. And he’s only been showing six months. Some dogs try for years and never make it. We knocked on the door this year, hope to kick it in next year.”