Clan Culture: Friends, Rivals & Family Celebrate The Montgomery County Kennel Club

Clan Culture: Friends, Rivals & Family Celebrate The Montgomery County Kennel Club

When people yearn for the good ol’ days of showing dogs in America, they usually reflect on memories of the “old” Morris & Essex, Santa Barbara or Westminster. These storied events managed to draw huge entries on the strength of their judging panels alone, providing a competitive atmosphere where rivals could spar without undue rancor, and forever friends were treated like family. Thankfully, these clubs continue to honor the traditions of the dog sport by hosting world-class events—even in the age of Doodle redundancy. Another club that remains relevant to the interests of purebred dogs today is a Terriers-only organization with an unfailing ability to gather the clan to its show year after year.

The Montgomery County Kennel Club promotes the interests of Terriers exclusively. However, its stand-alone show has also elicited enthusiasm from dedicated breeders of hounds—and horses—since the club was founded in 1929. Unless you are very new to the sport, you’re no doubt aware of “Montgomery’s” significance to Terrier breeders specifically, and canine and equestrian interests at-large. In fact, serious students of all breeds make this one-day show a “must-attend” event on the dog show calendar. The scenic hills and dales of Southeastern, Pennsylvania provide the perfect setting for fanciers to enjoy the exhibition of purebred dogs in a manner familiar to breeders and exhibitors in days gone by. This is one show not to be missed by anyone with a serious interest in breeding stock.

Montgomery is a show hosted by and for breeders. Every year, more than two dozen parent clubs support the entry in their breeds, with most hosting national or regional specialties. Entries often run into the triple digits. At this year’s event, Shari Boyd drew an entry of 101 Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Anne Katona presided over 100 Scottish Terriers. Other sizable breed entries were made up for Lydia Coleman Hutchinson (92 Norwich Terriers), Brian Bogart (85 Miniature Schnauzers), Wood Wornall (83 Kerry Blue Terriers) and Rhonda Davis (82 Airedale Terriers). Likewise, the entry in Cairns (75), Borders (73) and Westies (71) provided ample opportunity for deliberation by Elisabeth Theodorsson, Amanda Pough and Kathleen Ferris respectively. Collectively, 31 Terrier breeds were represented by this year’s total entry of 1,658. (Only the long-established Manchester and the newly-recognized American Hairless were notably absent from this year’s show).

Pictured Below: Top to bottom: Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier GHCh. Doubloon’s Extreme Gamer is Second in Group and Reserve Best in Show. Group Third is awarded to the American Staffordshire Terrier GCh. Alpines LBK Living On The Road BCAT DS CGC TKN. The Miniature Schnauzer Ch. Minuteman Colder Weather is awarded Fourth in Group. Photos by Ashby.

The Montgomery County Kennel Club

The Montgomery County Kennel Club

As a breeder’s showcase, Montgomery offers a Best Bred-By Exhibitor in Show competition that is open to the winners of each breed’s Bred-By classes as well as those dogs and bitches shown in the Best of Breed/Variety competition by their breeder/owners. As noted in the catalog, “Every dog entered at this event in the Bred by Exhibitor class or for Best of Breed/Variety competition is eligible for the Best Bred by Exhibitor Competition, if the entry is shown by a breeder and owner of record. All dogs in competition for Best Bred by Exhibitor must be handled throughout the entire breed competition by a breeder and owner of record.” This year’s judge for the event was Darle Heck of Foothills, Alberta, Canada, who selected the Airedale Terrier, Reydaleterrydale Rangel The Great Gatsby, as her winner of the Wedgewood Liberty Plate. (In 2017, Mrs. Jean Surfus awarded this dog Best in Sweepstakes at Montgomery). The now three-year-old dog is bred by Gerardo Reyes and Gabriel & Ivonne Rangel, and was handled on the day by Mr. Reyes.

At Montgomery, a Best Brace in Show competition is also held to honor pairs of related dogs that are similar in appearance with the ability to perform in unison. The award, though rarely offered to the fancy today, was once coveted by breeders at major events from coast to coast. Today, it remains a fixture only at shows where the tradition of breeding purebred dogs to the breed standards is genuinely lauded. This year’s winning pair of Airedales, chosen by David Kirkland of Sanford, North Carolina, hails from the Joval kennels of Dr. Valerie Rickard and Mr. John Rickard of Leesburg, Virginia. Breeder/owner-handler Valerie piloted Ch. Joval Sweet Strawberry Shortcake (co-owned with Nancy A. Nykamp and Hugh W. Garner) and Joval Sweet Cinnamon Swirl (co-owned with husband John) to the win.

Pictured Below: Best Brace in Show is awarded to the Airedale Terriers Ch. Joval Sweet Strawberry Shortcake and Joval Sweet Cinnamon Swirl by Mr. David Kirkland. Photo by Ashby.

Mr. Kirkland also enjoyed the distinct pleasure of selecting this year’s Best in Show winner. The popular multi-Group judge found his favorite in the familiar form of the Welsh Terrier GCh. Brightluck Money Talks. Bred by Janet McBrien of Brightwood, Virginia, and co-owned by Janet with Keith Bailey of Knoxville, Tennessee, the three-year-old Welshman was expertly shown to victory by professional handler Tracy Ann Szaras. Second in the Group went to the two-year-old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier GCh. Doubloon’s Extreme Gamer that was bred, owned and handled by Elena Landa of Bothell, Washington.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, GCh. Alpines LBK Living On The Road BCAT DS CGC TKN, earned a Group Third for breeder/owner-handler Ed Thomason of Newman Lake, Washington. The three-year-old Am Staff was co-bred with Ed’s wife Karen and co-owned with Karen, Lacey Keller, Kelly Townsend and Amy Tighe. As final proof that Montgomery is an authentic showcase for breeders and their stock, Fourth in Group was awarded to yet another breeder/owner-handled dog. Ch. Minuteman Colder Weather garnered the placement under the steady hand of Miniature Schnauzer breeder Catherine McMillan of Delisle, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Another tradition that remains vital to the future of the dog sport is the Junior Showmanship competition. At this year’s Montgomery, 19 juniors presented 12 different breeds and varieties to Mr. Clay Coady of Paradise Valley, Arizona. From the Master Class came this year’s Best Junior, Riley Capton of Los Angeles. The young handler expertly presented her Russell Terrier GCh. D.B.F. Checkered Flag, bred by and co-owned with Dr. Candace Lundin of Middletown, Virginia, to the win and celebrated—moments before Best in Show judging got underway—with the clan of devotees gathered ringside to support their friends, rivals and family members. 

Pictured Left to right: (Left) Gerardo Reyes handles his Airedale Terrier Reydaleterrydale Rangel The Great Gatsby to Best Bred-By Exhibitor under Mrs. Darle Heck.  (Right) Mr. Clay Coady awards Best in Junior Showmanship to Riley Capton with the Russell Terrier GCh. D.B.F. Checkered Flag. Photos by Ashby.

The Montgomery County Kennel Club

Clan Culture: Friends, Rivals & Family Celebrate The Montgomery County Kennel Club

  • Dan Sayers covers the sport of dogs with a particular interest in purebred dog history and breed preservation. His articles feature notable icons of the past as well as individuals who work tirelessly to promote purebred dogs today. A self-taught artist, Dan’s work is represented in collections worldwide and his illustrations appear in the award-winning Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology by Ed and Pat Gilbert. Since 1981, Dan has been an exhibitor of several Sporting and Hound breeds. He’s bred Irish Water Spaniels under the Quiet Storm prefix and judged Sweepstakes at the parent club’s National Specialty twice. Dan is a member of the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America and the Morris and Essex Kennel Club.

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