Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ch. Rocky Top's Sundance Kid ROM aka RUFUS Makes History

OK so Rufus won Westminster in 2006, but I have to tell you, I still cry when I watch the video clips. That year was special to me for many reasons. I had been there in 2005 and the day of Terrier Group, when Rufus did not progress further, I just felt like next year was gonna be the year. I literally felt it. His mom and dad Barb and Tom Bishop worked very hard that year along with Rufus and they came into Westminster 2006 with momentum. Freeman and his bitch Hope (my son and dog) were headed to Westminster as well. This would be Freeman's first time showing at Westminster a mere month after he turned 16. They would be in the whites class, so they would not go head-to-head with Rufus. Terrier Group is always the first night of Westminster. During the day's breed classes, Rufus took breed, as expected, and Hope took breed in whites, as hoped! Freeman and Hope would be showing during the televised portion of the event that say adrenaline was running would be a Huge understatement...for me, that is. Freeman was cool as a cucumber. In fact, here he was taking a nap on one of the benches during the afternoon LOL. 

That evening I played kennel bitch for Freeman and was in charge of grooming Hope backstage. Freeman was Ready. We were in the area where all the terriers assemble. On TV it is the place where they all emerge from to enter the ring. Linda Lethin had her mini and she was giving Freeman all kinds of encouraging words, having been there several times before. 

Up in the stands, my dad, Freeman's dad and girlfriend, my partner David and a slew of best friends were assembled in a group of about a dozen, ready to yell and scream. We apologized ahead of time to the people sitting in front of us because we Knew we were gonna make noise.

Group was thrilling and Freeman was as calm, as always. This is a shot taken during Group. I love this pic for so many reasons. They are so in-sync. He is far enough away from Hope to allow her to shine on her own, yet close enough to provide control and guidance. The lead is loose, but not so loose that he cannot offer corrections. His body language is relaxed. The lead is very neatly tucked up into his hand, providing no distractions from his girl.

They were in the ring with all of these professional handlers, and here is this kid, with his first show dog, and he brought her all the way to the floor of Madison Square Garden. Yes, I am very proud.

Here is another pic that someone sent me. At first I thought, why did they send me this pic? And then I noticed that the dog is watching Freeman and Hope during Group as they were examined by the judge!

Now, while all of this personal history was going on, some Serious Westminster and Bull Terrier history was unfolding. Rufus won the Terrier Group. Freeman and Hope were done and there was the option of driving home but there was No Way we were not going to stay for Best In Show the following night...again, I know you don't have to believe me, but I felt it in my bones. Rufus was going to win and I wanted to be there.

So the following night a bunch of us assembled in the stands again, waiting to yell and scream for our Bull Terrier Ambassador. When the BIS judge asked for the colored bull terrier we went Wild and raced as fast as we could to the floor. Now, there were BT folks here and there within Madison Square Garden and we all rushed down at the same time. I don't know what we were thinking because of course when we got to the edge of the floor, there were security men holding us back. I ended up next to Heidi Clayton, who has a Rufus daughter, and we hugged each other in our excitement and were determined to get onto the floor with Rufus and Barb and Tom. We both had tear stained cheeks of joy! It never occurred to any of us that we Shouldn't be there LOL. Security felt differently and just when we thought all was for naught Tom walked over to the guard and said "These are my friends. Let them through" and that was that! Following are some pics my partner David and I snapped while in the center of the hubbub. Rufus was a star and this was his shining moment and I will never forget that I was there and got to experience this part of history - the first colored Bull Terrier to win Westminster. 

Here are some pics of Rufus, his handler Kathy Kirk and his mom and dad, Barb and Tom.

You can check out Rufus' kennel page at for more great pics of the man himself, his home-mates and babies. 

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