MOREHEAD CITY — As the nation’s top show dogs competed Tuesday in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show in New York City, Oli, a 4-year-old black Russian terrier owned by a county veterinarian, was in the mix.
Dr. Richard Hawkes, veterinarian and owner of Arendell Animal Hospital in Morehead City, and his wife DeAnne own Oli, the top-ranked black Russian terrier in the nation. The couple owns Guardian Bear Kennels and breeds black Russians, several of which have won national titles.
Oli took first place Tuesday afternoon in the breed judging part of the competition, which qualified him to compete Tuesday night in the working dog category at Westminster. Only the top dogs selected in each breed category make it to the final all group judging.
While Oli didn’t win the group competition, he and his handler Rhanda Glenn were seen nationally because the final group competitions were televised on Fox Sports Channel FS1.
Wherever Oli lands in competitions, in Dr. Hawkes’ eyes, Oli is already a winner.
“He’s the number one black Russian terrier in AKC history,” Dr. Hawkes said. “He has earned more points than any other black Russian in AKC history and finished last year as the No. 6 working dog in the country.”
Dr. Hawkes said Oli took first place last year at the Black Russian Terrier Club of America National Show and at the AKC Royal Canin National Dog Championship.
“It would be nice to win the triple crown (which Westminster would provide), but he’s a great dog regardless,” Dr. Hawkes said.
He added that while his wife was attending Westminster to cheer for their dog, he stayed behind to work at his practice.
Nearly 2,630 dogs competed in the 144th Westminster Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show, which started Sunday and culminated Tuesday evening with Best in Show at Madison Square Garden.
Televised since 1948, Westminster is America’s most widely watched live telecast of a dog show.
The Westminster Kennel Club welcomed 204 breeds and varieties among the 2,630 entries from 49 states and 19 other countries to its expanded three-day dog show, according to a Westminster press release.
Oli, as well as all participating dogs, competed in the breed competitions that focus on which dogs best conform to the proper standards of the breed.
As for the black Russian terrier, they were first bred in Russia in the late 1940s and early 1950s as military working dogs. The contemporary black Russian terriers are considered working dogs. They get quite large, averaging between 80 and 130 pounds.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.