What's an agility dog doing at Westminster?
It's all been something of a fluke, said owner Wendy Howard of Alta Loma in Rancho Cucamonga.
"I've never owned a show dog before," she said. But after purchasing a toy fox terrier from a breeder, she decided to give it a try.
"I took him to an agility class and one of the ladies there said, `You're going to show this dog, right? ... This is a beautiful dog."'
So she decided to give it a whirl.
"It's been quite a ride," said Howard, general manager at King's Fish House restaurant in Laguna Hills.
The first conformation show she entered with Ollie - whose full AKC name is Ultra Quest Go for the Gold - was in Burbank.
It went, she said, "not so well."
"I didn't understand the whole dog show thing," Howard said. "It's very different from agility."
But after a few more shows, Ollie and his owner began to gain confidence.
"Poor Oliver, he thinks he's hot stuff now," said Howard who grew up in West Covina where her parents still live. "He's prancing his little stuff right out there."
Despite the breed's name, toy fox terriers are part of the toy group (Ollie, who is 20 months old, weighs in at just 7 pounds).
As for Westminster, "we're crashing the party," Howard said, noting Ollie didn't make it into the top five of his breed for the automatic invitation. But the show also is open to other titled AKC dogs via petition and application.
"I have nothing to lose," she said. "It's a bucket list kind of thing."
Howard has hired professional handler Allan Chambers of San Diego to escort Ollie into the ring, but she wouldn't miss the show for anything.
Ollie's a fun-loving dog, she said: "He goes to sleep with a toy in his mouth and he wakes up with a toy in his mouth," she said. "He's got lots of energy ... Life is one big party."
Her one fear is that he'll get scared "and not show himself as he truly is."
Win or lose, Westminster will likely be Ollie's last conformation show, she said. After that, it's back to full-time agility - where Ollie is proving himself to be "absolutely amazing," she said.
Toy fox terriers (eight in addition to Ollie) will appear for judging in Ring 1 at 11:15 a.m. (8:15 a.m. PST) Monday - watch the live stream at www.westminsterkennelclub.org/ or by downloading the club's free mobile app.
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