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Local Irish Setter is among top dogs at Westminister show
A Port Orchard woman experienced the Westminister Kennel Club annual dog show firsthand as her canine brought home a “Best of Breed” award.
Five-year-old Kristopher, co-owned by Dale Michaelson and Brian Rasmussen of Seattle, was tops in the Irish Setter category at the 138th edition of the prestigious dog show Feb. 10-11 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
It was the duo’s and the dog’s first time competing at the Westminister classic.
“It was really exciting, especially when our dog won best of breed,” said the 65-year-old Michaelson. “I’m still on cloud nine. It was so exciting.”
The dog’s registered name is Abbeylane Tramore Above The Limit. He is bred from two grand champion Irish Setters — Tramore Galewinns Mak'n An Impact (sire) and Tramore Limited Edition (dam), who died a few months ago. Kristopher was born April 29, 2009.
“He’s really a beautiful dog and very well put together,” said Michaelson. “He competed most of last year and won a lot of competitions. He is quite young to win the award because most dogs are a few years older.”
Michaelson said, unlike other dogs, it takes Irish Setters more years to grow their coats.
“Some Irish mature more slowly than other breeds,” she said. “They start to get their coats between 3 and 5 years.”
Since 1967, Michaelson has been training and showing Irish Setters, but changed breeds for about 20 years before coming back to the Irish Setters.
“Irish Setters was my first love,” she said. “I changed 10 years ago.”
She said individuals who show dogs always dream about competing in the Westminister Kennel Club show.
“That is the ultimate dog show,” Michaelson said. “In the back of their minds, they want to have a dog capable and represents the breed true during competition.”
Michaelson said odds were against her dog winning because it was Rasmussen’s first time serving as dog handler.
“He is not a professional handler,” she said. “For him to compete with all those professional handlers in the ring, it was amazing.”
Rasmussen first showed Kristopher last January and he became a co-owner six months ago because of financial reasons.
“It’s expensive to show dogs, it’s not cheap,” she explained. “He loves the dog so much that he was willing to put money in to promote him.”
Michaelson said anyone can enter the dog show, but show officials give a formal invite to the top five in each breed. She said her dog was ranked sixth, but because Michaelson didn’t show the dog much in November and December, he dropped to ninth.
“He’s in the top 10 for all breed and breed statistics,” said Michealson. “When he competes, he gets points and the points add up. They also count how many dogs they beat.”
Michaelson stayed in New York City for a week so Kristopher could compete in three specialty shows for Irish Setters on Feb. 7-9. A specialty show is where the dog is competing against their own breed.
“It’s something their local clubs offer for people who are coming into the show,” Michaelson said. “There was perhaps more than 50 different specialty competitions for all breeds before the main show. It’s something to make the trip worthwhile.”
Michaelson said she is unsure whether she’s going to compete at Westminister next year.
“It’s really difficult traveling with dogs, especially during the winter months because of the temperatures,” she explained. “Some planes will put an embargo on animal travel because it’s too cold. There are seasons where it is too cold or too hot to ship a dog.”
Michaelson, who works as a merchandiser, said she doesn’t plan to show Kristopher a lot this year, only in a few specialty shows including the national show.
Kristopher is already the father to one puppy and two more breeding are scheduled in late February and March.
“I’ve been getting hounded since Westminister,” Michaelson said.