Jefferson County Dog Competes at Westminster
Article text courtesy of PT Leader
Above: Diznee, a Japanese chin breed of dog, is seen here strutting his stuff in one of the competitions that led him to the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2018 10:00 pm
Author: Kirk Boxleitner
Decades of experience in dog breeding and training have paid off for East Jefferson County’s Mariko Saum and Dawn Shaffett, whose dog Diznee, a Japanese chin breed, was headed to the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Feb. 12-13, 2018 in Madison Square Garden.
“Our boy Diznee went ‘Best of Opposite,’ beating eight of the top males in his breed,” Saum said. “‘Best of Breed’ would have allowed us to move on, but we’re proud of how well Diznee did, against so many top Japanese chins, for his first time at Westminster. If all goes well, we’ll be back next year to try and take it all.”
Saum, of Port Ludlow, has been showing dogs for more than 40 years, and Japanese chins for 15 years, while Diznee’s co-owner, Shaffett, of Port Hadlock, has been grooming dogs for 29 years. Shaffett has only six years of experience with Japanese chins, although she began showing rottweilers 25 years ago.
“My dogs have made it into the top 10, but you have to make it into the top five to be invited to Westminster,” Saum said. “This is our first invite.”
Shaffett and her husband own and run The Dog & I pet boarding and grooming, as well as Shaffett’s Sharpening blade maintenance. Saum has bred “Best in Show” winners, “Top 20” Bouvier des Flandres and Japanese chins.
With Luke and Rowan Baggenstos of Centralia stepping up to show Diznee, he’s earned the rankings of “No. 1 All-Breed” and “No. 2 in Breed” in just five months.
Shaffett and Saum noted that judges for such events tend not to be effusive in their praise, but Shaffett pointed out that one judge said Diznee was “a very lovely dog,” while Saum recalled that another judge wanted to buy Diznee from her.
MOVES LIKE A BIG DOG
“Diznee comes from two exceptional, pedigree-quality parents,” Shaffett said. “He has an amazing coat and body structure. When you watch him move, you see the balance. He’s well put together.”
“He moves like a big dog,” Saum said. “He grew up around big dogs. Toy dogs tend to move differently, but he’s not a typical toy. He has the essence of a champion, where he just looks at the judges in a way that says, ‘Please. I am the dog you’re looking for.’”
Even with Diznee’s fearless spirit, which his mother also demonstrated in competitions, Shaffett acknowledged that she and Saum have spent no small amount of time training Diznee, from how to be examined on tables to how to show his bite.
“He knows how to stack himself up,” Shaffett said. “You can’t spend hours training him or else he’ll burn out, but every time you put him on the leash, spend maybe five or 10 minutes a day on it. He still gets time to be a dog and get dirty running in puddles, which was important to us.
“But when he’s in the ring, he knows that’s his job,” Saum said. “It’s a daily investment of training that builds his muscle memory.”
COST TO SHOW
Showing dogs also entails a not inconsiderable financial investment, which Saum estimated runs about $200 a month in entry fees alone for Diznee. The total costs for his care and competition reach roughly $2,000 a month, according to Shaffett, which makes their partnership beneficial, as they both cover those costs.
Both of Diznee’s “dog moms” consider the time and expenses well worth it, however.
“I got to raise this little thing into a fluffy beauty,” Shaffett said. “I grew my dream dog. It’s a joy to watch what he does.”
“He’s about to be the father of three or four puppies,” Saum said. “So, just as he carried on the legacy of his line before him, he’ll be the stamp that those puppies will carry on. It’s definitely a love of the breed, rather than any sort of love of money. He’s pure-bred, well-bred and an excellent example of his breed.”