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Champions ready for their day at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Tracey Logan checks over her two-and-a-half year old French Bulldog, Joker, at her Lower Burrell home on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Amanda Alexander with Balu (left), a Bluetick Coonhound, Ginn (middle), an American English Coonhound, and Xcetera, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, at her pet grooming shop in Homer City on February 1, 2013. Alexander will be taking the dogs, and others, to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Valley News Dispatch
Joker, a two and a half year old French Bulldog, strikes his pose as Tracey Logan checks him over at her Lower Burrell home on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Valley News Dispatch
Joker, a two and a half year old French Bulldog, lays down as his owner Tracey Logan sits next to him at her Lower Burrell home on Saturday, February 2, 2013. Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Some of the dog show awards won by Amanda Alexander in her pet grooming shop in Homer City on February 1, 2013. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Tracy Logan has big dreams for her little dog, Joker.

She bought the French bulldog from a litter in Florida 2 12 years ago, and he has won several regional dog shows since he was a pup.

The step stop is the centuries-old Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.

“Everything he's won, he's won on his merit and on how nice he is, not because of sponsors or any big money. We don't have any of that,” Logan says. “Judges will see that he's special.”

Westminster, the nation's second-longest continuously held sporting event, takes place Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

While there, Joker will compete against 2,721 dogs from 187 breeds that come from all 50 states, plus Brazil, Germany, Croatia, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Mexico.

This will be first trip to Westminster for Joker and Logan, of Lower Burrell, who has been taking show-preparation tips from longtime breeder Janice Galiszewski.

Logan began entering Joker in competitions when he was 6 months old, and he has since become a regular on the dog-showing circuit.

He recorded his first grand champion win in July. That victory qualified Joker, who is known in show-dog circles as Grand Champion Bullies Heaven Jokers R Wild at Northern Light, for Westminster.

“He's a special little a guy. He's been uber-phenomenal at other shows,” Logan says. “He's not in the Top 20 yet, but we're getting there.”

The first Westminster dog show was held in 1877. Only the Kentucky Derby has had a longer uninterrupted run.

In all that time, terriers — whether they are fox, wire-haired or Scottish — have dominated the competition. They've recorded 45 Westminster wins, almost half the total. Hounds have won only four times.

David Frei, a Westminster spokesman, says this will be the first year judging in some events is done anywhere other than the Garden. Breed judging on the first two days will be at Piers 9 294, two miles away. Night judging, including that for Best in Show, still will be at the Garden.

Amanda Alexander hopes a decision to add two new breeds to this year's schedule betters her chances at challenging for a title.

Show organizers are admitting Treeing Walker coonhounds and Russell Terriers to the competition.

Alexander. of Homer City, has kept up her family's tradition of raising Treeing Walkers to hunt, but also began entering them in show competitions a few years ago.

Her three Treeing Walkers, named Xcetera, Tucker and Meg, will make their Westminster debut. They join her other entries — a Plott coonhound named Capone; her blue tick, Balu; and Ginn, her American English coonhound.

“I'm a competitor. I enjoyed the hunt ... but this was something new and different,” Alexander says. “You do it once, you get hooked.”

Kato, a male Vizsla from Ford City, topped a field of 28 other dogs to win Best of Breed at last year's Westminster competition. Also known as Grand Championship Artisan Grouse Point Pink Panther JH, Kato was among the 29 dogs that fell short in the Sporting Group judging that preceded the Best in Show that night. He won't be at Westminster this year.

Last year's Best in Show trophy was awarded to Ch. Palacegarden Malachy, a Pekingese also known as Malachy.

Westminster fun facts and figures

• The Westminster Kennel Club was established in 1877, making it America's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Its dog show is America's second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby.

• Two dogs have won Best in Show at both Westminster and Crufts in Birmingham, England: the Lakeland terrier, Champion Stingray of Derryabah (Crufts 1967, WKC 1968) and the Kerry blue terrier, Champion Torums Scarf Michael (Crufts 2000, WKC 2003).

• Only once has the offspring of a Best in Show winner duplicated the feat. In 2000, the English Springer spaniel Champion Salilyn N' Erin's Shameless repeated the 1993 BiS accomplishment of her sire, Champion. Salilyn's Condor.

• In 2009, Champion Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, a Sussex Spaniel, became the oldest dog to capture Best in Show at 10 years, 2 months and 9 days of age in 2009. The youngest winner was the rough collie, Laund Loyalty of Bellhaven, who captured the award in 1929 at the age of exactly 9 months.

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