A New Hampshire Chinook Wins at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Five-year-old Birr won Best of Breed honors for the Chinook at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
It’s said that every dog has his day. That was true for Ch Lakeside Run’s Little Bear, affectionately known as Birr, when he won Best of Breed honors for the Chinook at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 11 in front of an international TV audience and thousands of people in-house at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
The Chinook, which means “warm winter winds” in Inuit, was developed in New Hampshire as a sled dog in the 1920s and became our official State Dog in 2009. Londonderry High School science teacher Kristine Holleran is 5-year-old Birr’s owner/handler and she talks about their paws-itively furr-fect experience.
Westminster is North America’s most famous and prestigious dog show. Was it a little intimidating?
Yes. We go to a lot of shows, but Westminster was definitely a big step up for us. It was quite anxiety-provoking up until a few weeks before, and then I figured I’d used up all of my adrenaline. I decided it’s a dog show and what will be, will be ... in the end, it’s all up to the judge. It depends on what they’re looking for, and you hope that your dog is showing him that on that day.
What was the je ne sais quoi they saw in Birr?
We were both on our game that day, and that’s what it usually comes down to. He’s a beautifully moving dog, and he’s very well put together.
Did either of you still have butterflies?
I was concerned that Birr would poop in the ring or I’d fall flat on my face, but by the time we got to the ring I wasn’t even thinking of that. My concern that morning was to get him out for a walk and let him enjoy some nice fresh air and run off a little energy. But I was hoping he would poop so I’d know that was taken care of.
This was the first year that the Chinook was allowed to participate at Westminster. Does Birr know that he’s a star?
I don’t think so. He was really intrigued by New York City and was excited about it all.
How much grooming did Birr need?
A cool thing about the Chinooks is it’s just wash-dry-nails and you’re done. You’re not allowed to trim them but for shows you can blow their coats dry. I can’t even do my own hair, let alone a dog’s, for the show ring.
What is Birr’s personality like?
He’s a happy-go-lucky dog, but he does have an intensity when you go to work that is not easy-going at all. When he gets in harness and you put him on some ropes, he’s a demon at the start. He’s insane to go. He knows what he was bred to do, and he likes to do it.
Has Birr received any official recognition from Governor Hassan or the Legislature?
On social media there was a call to root for the New Hampshire State Dog, but nobody has written, called or e-mailed us from Concord to say congratulations. They have lots of things to do that might be more important.
Will Birr stay on the show circuit?
I haven’t decided. Our motto is do things with your dogs that you enjoy and your dogs enjoy. It’s nice to win, but the victory really is in the relationship with your dog. That’s the big win.