South Florida dogs aim to fetch honors at Westminster show

South Florida canines large and small plan to compete in one of the world’s premier dog shows

02/08/2013 6:29 PM

02/10/2013 10:05 PM

Even the threat of a major snow storm couldn’t keep Pippi, a “powder puff’’ Chinese Crested dog, from heading to New York on Friday for the American Kennel Club’s 137th Westminster Dog Show on Monday and Tuesday.

The tiny dog, with silky fur and pointed ears, made one of the last flights out, with her 11-year-old handler, Jolie Dreiling , of Miami Beach, Jolie’s parents Mary and Michael Dreiling, and one of her canine housemates, another Chinese Crested name Ace, who’s just along for the ride.

Until the storm put some travel plans in jeopardy, Florida planned on sending 116 dogs to the show, which will go on no matter the weather.

In all, about 3,000 dogs are expected to show, most at Madison Square Garden but some at Piers 92/94 on the Hudson.

It’s the first time any part of the show will take place somewhere other than the Garden, which is undergoing renovations.

Two newly-recognized breeds join the contest this year: the Russell Terrier and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Jolie, a Cushman School fifth-grader — along with twin brother Albert — is already one of the top junior Chinese Crested handlers in the world — also The International Brotherhood of Magicians’ 2012 Junior Close-Up Magician of the Year.

She and 4-year-old Pippi, whose AKC name is Gingery’s Wintergreen, are entered in the “toy’’ group at Westminster with nearly 40 other Chinese Cresteds, both powder puff and hairless.

Among them: two Chinese Cresteds from South Florida. Mother-daughter breeders from Sunrise, Mary Lou Patti and Jennifer Patti, are showing Barbie (Grand Champion Stillmeadow Solo in the Spotlight), an 18-month-old hairless, and her half-brother Nigel (Grand Champion Stillmeadow Looks Like a Photo Shoot), 2.

They’ve had Chinese Cresteds since the 1980s, said Jennifer, a paralegal.

“Mom showed Yorkies, and I developed allergies, so we went to hairless,’’ she said.

A perennial winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest, hairless Chinese Cresteds were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991.

The Ugly Dog winners are invariably geriatric and toothless.

“That’s not our breed,’’ said Jennifer Patti, 30.

Also planning to go from South Florida: Dr. Nancy Greenbarg, a Dania Beach endodontist who’s been showing for 16 years, and Rocky, one of three golden retrievers she co-owns.

Champion De La Vega Colorado Rocky Mnt. Hi, his AKC name, will compete in the “sporting’’ group with a professional handler.

Goldens Chelsea (Champion Nautilus Erin Go Bragh), and Juicy (Champion Cashmere Blue Sky Basin), Chelsea and Rocky’s daughter, are sitting this one out.

“These three love more than anything to show,’’ said Greenbarg, 50, public education coordinator of the Golden Retriever Club of America.

Rocky also hunts birds and competes in field trials. He can spend hours in the yard finding and fetching hidden training bumpers, prompted only by hand signals.

Mindful that no golden retriever has won Best in Show since the AKC recognized the breed in 1925, Greenbarg is hopeful nonetheless.

Rocky, she said, “has a big head and a short-ribbed back and has fabulous movement.’’

Jolie Dreiling isn’t sure that Pippi can win, but thinks showing is fun. She’s been handling for more than a year, and is accustomed to being in front of an audience, as a magician.

The point, she said, is to “have a good time.’’

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