On the drive home after Montgomery, Kirsi Sainio, our partner in Skyes from Finland said to me that this year's show “felt like Montgomery.” She was right on target, too. The new site at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, in glorious weather, was a perfect replacement for Ambler. Candidly, I sort of liked the giant tent set-ups better than the Ambler venue. It was much easier, I thought, to see the breeds being judged rather than being limited to a single breed of interest. True, the grounds may not be as flat as Ambler, but hopefully in time and after a relationship is totally established with the College, which is certainly being worked upon, improvements to meet the needs of the dog show will be put in place in that area. With the possible exception of the Airedale ring, which was still a bit on the small side for inviting comparisons amongst exhibits insofar as movement was concerned, most rings were of ample size. Traffic flowed evenly and well entering and unloading. Leaving was a bit harrowing, but compared to Ambler, it was a dream. Let's not forget that getting into Ambler wasn't the easiest of tasks either, whilst leaving could be a nightmare. Surely, this site, in this kind of weather, as to parking and ingress and egress is far superior to Ambler.
For me, the two highlights were tributes to two grand ladies. In the early a.m., the Eve Ballich memorial meeting was touching and most deserving. The afternoon accolade of a standing ovation for Jo Deubler was equally if not more appropriate, considering the effort of love Montgomery was and is for that lady. Jo looked well, and I am hopeful the loving response to her being in attendance was a big boost for her.
As to the weekend itself, starting out with Hatboro and on to Devon, the weather changed asfrequently as not. From lovely to rain to cold to warmth, each day had a surprise in store for us all. The BIS winner the first two days was the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, which at Devon was awarded Group 2 and at Montgomery Group 3. In terms of awards and points, this dog, owned by Beth Verner and Betty Chapman, Ch. Caraway Celebrate Life, and bred by them with Gary Crawley and shown so expertly by Shari Carusi, was the top-winning exhibit of the weekend. The Airedale which was Best at Devon and shown to perfection by Jenny Wornall, is owned and bred by Samantha Curran and Richard Berg. He is, of course, Ch. Everymay's High Performance. But the big winner, even though he could manage but one Group 2 the first three days (not shown in the Group at Devon) was the Sealyham owned by Mickey and Linda Low, with the breeders being Howard Stone and Laura Jones. This is now the second Montgomery won in three years by the Lows with two different dogs. In 2004, their Lakeland, Ch. Northcote Delzar Serious Riot, was the victor.
This is the third dog piloted by Gabriel Rangel, the very clever and talented handler, to have won the top prize at Montgomery. His first win was with another Sealey, in 1995, Ch. Fanfare's Goodfellow. This Sealey, registered as Stonebroke Right On The Money, aka Ben Low, is a marvelous show dog. He is campaigned carefully and with aplomb. Obviously, the judge, Enrique Filippini, was entranced with the dog from the beginning, as were, I might add, the large crowd of onlookers. Whether the race must go to the swift is another matter altogether, and from where I sit, I like to see a dog exhibited at a more natural gait. But appealing to most was Ben's overall performance. This dog is just a show dog extraordinaire, handled by a man who really knows his stuff and how to put it over.
Group 2 was the Airedale, Group 3 the Soft Coat, both of which had been mentioned by me previously. Group 4 was the Smooth Fox Terrier shown by Suzie Kipp for Clay Coady, Marco Botelho and Evelina Martini. Called Torquay Demetrio, he has made his mark in a very short time of American showing. Only two class dogs won breeds at Montgomery this year—the Lakeland and the Mini Bull Terrier. Both were fine exhibits that caught my eye, for sure. One Veteran won thebreed—our Skye, who is now a little over 10-and-a-half years old. Of the new dogs I saw, the ones I most remember are the Westie breed winner, the aformentioned Lakeland and a Mini Schnauzer class dog that was Winners at least two, if not three, days. There were a number of class Airedales that looked most promising; indeed, the first two days, a class bitch and then a class dog were awarded the breed. I can't say I was enthralled by the new layout at Devon, but I suppose you have to work with what you've got. Too bad there's not a way to have the grooming tent closer to the rings, that's for sure.
One of the problems, of course, for the all-breed shows is that very frequently if not most, of the time, the BIS winner is predestined to be a terrier on this terrier weekend of all terriers. This year, the terriers swept the all breeds, which must have been discouraging to people who have top dogs competing against them. It's not always the case, though, and perhaps—and this is not meant as a slap at any judge or any dog—if BIS adjudicators came from backgrounds other than terriers only, it would level the playing field a bit.
Let's end this report positively. There's nothing like the Montgomery weekend. It's a unique, constructive experience that brings us back to the days of yore when, indeed,dog shows succeeded in being a place where breeding stock could be exhibited and compared. That's what it's all about, or should be about anyways, don't you think? •