History-making Icon

Icon, a 26-month-old coton de tulear, handled by Luis Ortiz of Clermont, Fla., won Best In Show on Sunday in the Charleston Kennel Club’s All-Breed Dog Show at Exchange Park.

History was made Sunday at the Charleston Kennel Club’s All-Breed Dog Show held at Exchange Park.

Icon, a 26-month-old dog owned by Luis and Carmen Ortiz of Clermont, Fla., won Best In Show on Sunday, the first time a coton de tulear has earned top honors in an American Kennel Club competition since the breed was recognized in July 2013.

Judge Manuel Queijeiro of Mexico City said: “It was a really fair competition. The seven dogs were the best in the show and any could have won. Today, (Icon) was great.”

“This is wonderful,” said Luis Ortiz, who handled the dog. During Saturday’s show, Icon earned Reserve Best in Show. Ortiz said Icon had won breed competitions in Helsinki and in Norway.

Jamie, a Boston Terrier owned by Linda Martin of Greensboro, N.C., won Best Owner- Handled in Show on Sunday.

Saturday’s Best In Show honors went to Ch Autumn’s Stone Ridge Mojo, a German Shepherd owned by Curtis and Janie Shaver. Owner-Handled Best in Show for Saturday was won by Ivysedge Jorash Late Breaking News At Windhamlair, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi owned by Pamela Mills Cone, Ellen Schusterson and Amy Scheibenpflug.

The Charleston Kennel Club’s All-Breed Dog Show has been going on for 80 years, according to show chair Sue Rooney-Flynn, with dogs, owners and handlers from throughout the country traveling to the Lowcountry for one of the first local shows of the season. They are competing for championship points for their particular breed of dog.

In addition to the main show at Exchange Park, where conformation to the breed standard is judged, there were also obedience and rallying competitions held in nearby areas of Exchange Park.

“We had 682 dogs entered this year,” Rooney-Flynn said.

Rooney-Flynn said when she was competing hard she might do 90 shows a year and that it’s not uncommon for top handlers to travel to 150 shows.

Inside Exchange Park’s main building are six rings set up for simultaneous competitions, with approximately 100 breeds judged. Some, such as Chihuahuas, are small enough to carry in a purse; others, such as Mastiffs, look large enough to saddle and ride.

Grooming takes place both inside and outside the building. Brushes, hairspray, even curling irons are evident. There also are vendors with every item you might want to pamper your prized pet, not to mention an on-site veterinarian, even a chiropractor who works on pooches and people.

Chiropractor Robert LeZotte of Charleston said the dogs should probably be adjusted once a month to once every six weeks. That’s usually done in the days leading up to a show so they are not sore while in the ring. But adjustments also can take place after a competition.

“We’re basically working on the nervous system,” LeZotte said.

With the large number of dogs, handlers, owners and spectators, the inside of the show is remarkably quiet with only an occasional bark sounding in the building where the main judging took place.

“These are socialized, well-behaved animals,” Rooney-Flynn said. She said they have to be since strangers are often touching them during the judging.

After the winners of each breed are selected, the winners compete in one of seven categories — Sporting, Hounds, Working, Herding, Toy, Terrier and Non-Sporting — with the winners from those seven categories then going up against each other for the top award.

Winning, whether it’s Best In Show or simply within your breed, earns championship points and also makes a dog more valuable for breeding purposes. Rooney-Flynn said a purebred puppy might range in cost from $900 to $4,000. And that’s assuming you pass the breeder’s standards to purchase a show dog. To buy a finished champion show dog, you can spend as much as $15,000.