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Top dog

By MORGAN MANNS
STAFF WRITER
Many would agree that dogs are a man’s best friend.
If this is so, it’s safe to say Sherry Deans, of Custar, has 10 best friends, one of which she is taking to the Westminster Kennel Club’s 138th Annual All Breed Dog Show Feb. 10-11 in New York.
Deans is a registered technician at Tri-County Veterinary Clinic in Fostoria. She started showing dogs in 2001. One of her two Neapolitan mastiffs, Locke, was invited to participate in the Westminster Show this year, as he is ranked in the top five Neapolitan mastiffs in the U.S., according to Deans.
“In order to be selected, he has to be a champion,” Deans said. “I show him throughout the year because he gets points based on the number of dogs he has defeated.”
The All Breed Dog Show presents dogs in conformation. According to Deans, the American Kennel Club wrote a breed standard for every breed of dog. The judges are chosen on their knowledge of these standards. The dogs will then be judged on how well they look and move compared to their respective standards.
Deans said there will be more than 2,800 dogs at the show, but only five Neapolitan mastiffs will be in attendance, including Locke.
Typically, there are four awards per breed, said Deans. The number one ribbon is Best of Breed, followed by Best of Opposite, which will go to a dog of the opposite sex as the winner of the former ribbon. Select Dog is considered a runner-up, while Award of Merit goes to a canine that is “worthy.”
The canines who receive Best of Breed in each breed will continue on to Best of Group. According to Westminster’s website, there are seven groups: sporting, hound, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding and working, which Locke could be included in if he wins his breed. From there, the winners of each group with compete for Best of Show.
During the show, the judges will examine Locke’s bone structure, mouth, teeth, paws and nails and will feel his coat, skin and wrinkles, at which time Locke will need to be completely still and cooperative in a “stacked position,” according to Deans. All canines will also have to run down and back to demonstrate how they move.
“Neo’s are originally bred to be guard dogs, so they’re a dog that doesn’t necessarily like strangers,” Deans said. “A lot of time goes into socialization and presenting him for other people. He’s very friendly; he’s a sweetheart. Other judges tell me that he should be the ambassador for the breed because his temperament is so good.”
Locke has lived with Deans since he was 5 months old. Deans said she has been showing him a couple times a month since he was about 6 months old.
Since then, he has received a dozen Best of Breed awards, AKC Champion, International Champion, Canine Good Citizen Award, and more.
“It’s a lot of accomplishments for being so young,” Deans said, stating that Locke will have his second birthday in May. “I think he deserves to be there even if he doesn’t win. He’s a really good quality Neo mastiff.”
As this is her first time going to Westminster, Deans said she is both excited and nervous.
“My biggest fear is him lying down in the ring,” she said. “He won best of breed in Toledo when he was eight or nine months old. “¦ In the group judging we went down and he decides ‘I don’t want to go anywhere,’ lays down, just ‘plop’ down on the floor with his head between his feet, ‘I’m not moving. I’m done.'”
Deans said Locke stood up and laid down three more times before running back toward the judge and self-stacking himself.
“The crowd was cheering; I mean they just thought he was a hoot. He was totally eating it up,” Deans said. “It’s kind of just like having a kid; they have good days and they have bad days. Hopefully he has good days (next week) because when he shows, he shows beautifully.”
The Westminster Kennel Club’s 138th Annual All Breed Dog Show will air live Monday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET on CNBC and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET on USA Network.
For more information on the show or live streaming, visit westminsterkennelclub.org.

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