I seldom write my weekly “Fancy That” column from a sentimental perspective, but today I’m going to take the liberty of doing just that. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I chose to write today about the Saginaw Valley Kennel Club shows is because what is for me the ultimate type of dog among all dogs went Best in Show on day one – very specifically, a black Toy Poodle bitch. These tiny ebony creatures of the female persuasion are just the very best kind of dog to have and share life with, in my opinion.

This particular black Toy Poodle bitch is also connected to three people who are a credit to the sport of purebred dogs, which makes it all the more fun to report on this win. So here are the facts: judge Michael Faulkner awarded Best in Show on Saturday in Michigan to GCh. Sharbelle Silhouette, bred by Sharon and Ray Stevens, and owner-handled by Janet Lange Moses. Sharbelle Toy Poodles began in 1968, and Sharon and Ray have bred many dozens of champions, as well as numerous specialty BIS and Group winners. Indeed, black Sharbelle bitches have three times been Winners Bitch at the National Specialty. But ‘Silly’ is their first American Best in Show winner. Janet, of course, has been very successful with her Reignon Poodles, mostly Miniatures, and she bred and owned, with Joseph Vergnetti, the top-winning Miniature Poodle of all time, Ch. Reignon Dassin Alexandra.

This win was a first for both the Stevenses and for Janet, as this is the first time she has owner-handled one of her Poodles to a Best in Show win. The entry on Saturday was a respectable 1,482, and the Toy Group judge was Desi Murphy. Silly was a multiple Group winner last year and Number 3 Toy Poodle in limited showing.

Australian import Ch. Brodruggan Black Knight was the Number 1 Gordon in the U.S. 2006 through 2008.

Australian import Ch. Brodruggan Black Knight was the Number 1 Gordon in the U.S. 2006 through 2008.

In the Sporting Group, judge Barbara Alderman chose Gordon Setter GCh. Sastya’s Eleven Eleven as her winner. ‘Teddy’ is a grandson of Am. Can. Aust. Nz. Ch. Triseter Ebonie Nirvana. Bred in Australia, where he was a BIS winner before being sent to America, ‘Nirvana’ became a National Specialty and Group winner in the U.S., handled by Kristin Karboski. Kristin also showed Nirvana’s sire, Aust. Am. Ch. Brodruggan Black Knight, also imported from Australia. ‘Nike’ was a multiple specialty and all-breed BIS winner in his native country, won 19 all-breed Bests in the U.S. and was Number 1 Gordon 2006 through 2008.

Teddy was the Number 1 Gordon Setter in 2011. He is bred by Sally Gift and Mary Ann Leonard, owned by Mary Ann and William Leonard, and handled by Mary Grill. He was Michael Faulkner’s Reserve Best in Show.

In the Hound Group, judge Jon Cole awarded the Group to a dog featured in “Fancy That” when he placed in a tough Group in Louisville, Scottish Deerhound Lehigh Ennis Carmichael. Handled by his owner, Grant Winchell, ‘J.C.’ was bred by Paula Pascoe and Pam Smithson, and is co-owned by Paula, who is married to Grant and is the brains and heart behind the Lehigh Deerhounds. J.C. won five Groups and a Best last year, and he has a nice start toward bettering that record this year.

Marjorie Martorella’s Working Group winner was Bernese Mountain Dog Can. Am. Br. Pan. Ch. Avatars Smooth Criminal, bred in Canada by Kim Groves and Jennifer Shupert, and owned by Kim and Luiz Fernandes of Brazil. Kim has handled ‘Jackson’ to, among other wins, the 2012 Canadian National Specialty BOB, multiple Group wins in the U.S., and Group and BIS wins in Canada. His sire, Am. Can. Ch. Avatars Try Try Again, was Number 1 among all breeds in Canada in 2009 with 78 Group Firsts and 33 BIS, also handled by Kim.

Bernese Mountain Dog Am. Can. Ch. Avatars Try Try Again was Top Dog of all breeds in Canada in 2009. Photo by CS Photo.

Bernese Mountain Dog Am. Can. Ch. Avatars Try Try Again was Top Dog of all breeds in Canada in 2009. Photo by CS Photo.

In the Terrier Group, Jon Cole gave the blue ribbon to the Russell Terrier that has taken America by storm and will be familiar to anyone who reads “Fancy That.” GCh. Goldsand’s Columbus was bred in Sweden by Madeline Sandell-Bark, is owned by Mark Ulrich and Christina Areskough, and handled by Allison Sunderman. He is Number 2 Terrier and Number 7 among all breeds through March 21, according to AKC records.

Ken Buxton’s Non-Sporting Group winner, Shar-Pei GCh. Shine’s Deck The Halls, has also been discussed here numerous times. ‘Tinsel’ is handled by Nina Fetter for owners Deborah and Robert Cooper, Linda Teitelbaum and Rebecca Pentecost, bred by Rebecca. She’s currently Number 1 Shar-Pei and Number 3 in the Group.

Canada’s presence at these shows was further heralded when in the Herding Group Donna Buxton awarded first to Sheltie GCh. Grandgables The Frat Boy, bred north of the border by Guy Jeavons and Mark McMillan. ‘Brother’ is owned by Pam and Andre Buckles and Jimmy Moses, and handled by Sarah Krickeberg. He is still America’s Number 1 Herding dog through the third week of March.

Not one single dog repeated a Group win on Sunday in Birch Run! The entry was a bit smaller, at 1,381. In the Working Group, Jon Cole made the Berner second to the eventual Best in Show winner, GCh. Kenro’s Witching Hour, handled by Amy Booth for breeders Robin Greenslade, Luke Norton and Doug Hill, and owners Robin, Karen and James Mancini, and Ken Greenslade. Dora, the Number 7 Working dog, bewitched Best in Show judge Barbara Alderman to take home the red, white and blue.

Reserve BIS went to Marjorie Martorella’s Hound Group winner, Xandali Bon Vivant. Bred by Floyd Gale, Tony Saia and Lex Robertson, and owned by Lex and Charles Fairleigh, the Afghan is handled by Ryan Wolfe and Lisa Bettis. This young dog won his first Group and a Best in Show from the classes in January, pushing him to Number 2 in the breed through the end of February.

Team Booth also won the Terrier Group, this time under Desi Murphy with Smooth Fox Terrier Ch. Broxden Waybroke Halstan Heritage. Owned by Victor Malzoni and just beginning his career, this dog is a grandson of Ch. Broxden Rio Oso Best Dressed, the dog Amy handled to Number 2 Terrier and Number 6 among all breeds in 2003 and a total of 68 Best in Shows and 215 Group Firsts during his career.

In the Toy Group, judge Sandra Walker’s winner was Chinese Crested GCh. Stillmeadow Solo in the Spotlight. Bred and owned by Mary Lou Patti and Jennifer Patti, ‘Barbie’ is handled by Christy Collins. As far as I can determine, this is her first Group win, but she was Best of Opposite Sex at the Garden in February from an entry of 37 specials.

Donna Buxton’s Non-Sporting Group winner was American Eskimo GCh. Nuuktok’s Atka Inukshuk, bred and owned in Ontario by Sharon Robertson. ‘Inuk’ is handled by Graeme Burdon and was the Number 1 Eskimo in Canada 2009 through 2012, and among the top 10 in the Group three of those years. He was Number 1 in the breed in the U.S. and a BIS winner in 2012, and is already a multiple Group winner here this year.

The Herding Group winner under Ken Buxton was Bouvier des Flandres Ch. Stonepillar’s Steel Blu, yet another winner with a Canuck connection. ‘Blu’ was bred in Canada by Bruce and Diane Hamm and M.J. Sears, and is owned by Julianna and Daniel Garrison and Elaine Paquette, who handles him. He was featured in “Fancy That” in March when he won back-to-back Groups at the Detroit Kennel Club. Both his dam, Ch. Stonepillar’s Special Jewel, and his sire, Am. Can. Ch. Quiche’s Eye of the Storm, were Group winners in Canada, his sire also winning in the U.S.

Our congratulations to this diverse group of winners. See you next week!