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This year I was lucky enough to watch the Westminster Dog Show live on TV, which was held at Madison Square Gardens in New York in February. I remember watching the herding group and recognizing Elaine Paquette with her Bouvier Baby Lars. When she won, I was thrilled! It was a huge win for Elaine and Baby Lars, made it all the more special because it was a Canadian dog and handler team. Recently, I had the privilege to interview her and learn more about the breed as well as all about their amazing win!
What interested you in the breed?
My sister Louise, mother Christine and my father Oscar really began their love for bouviers early on. My sister saw a bouvier when she was babysitting when she was younger. Our first bouvier, Kelly, came from an ad in the newspaper as they didn't have email and breed websites back then. At that time, the Windsor and around Detroit breeders imported bouviers from Europe and they were the place to get bouviers.
(Photo Credit: Yaunna Sommersby)
What are the characteristic you like about the breed?
Bouviers are very sensible dogs. They are thinking dogs and do not jump to conclusions. The have the tendency to think first before they react. The breed will typically sit back and analyze the situation and then if they have to do something about it, they will. The breed is very good with families and they make good protection dogs. It’s a well know saying about the bouvier- a bouvier will let you in but they won't let you out.
Why did you become a breeder?
My whole family has always been involved with dogs but Louise, my older sister was the one who was always more involved with them. We did get involved in training classes with our bouviers. There were dog breeders that were at those training classes so that is where we began discussing the possibility of us becoming breeders. We also went to some dog shows, where we began talking to other breeders and we were bit by the dog show bug. The rest is history!
When did you know Baby Lars was Westminster potential?
This was our third time at Madison Square Garden. In 2018, Baby Lars won the breed at Westminster, he won at the specialty, he was in the top 20 at the American National, and he won Best in Shows in Canada. I definitely was able to see his Westminster potential from these wins.
What was it like to compete with Baby Lars? Can you tell us about how you prepared for Westminster?
Since Baby Lars was already being shown all year, he was coming off a show career year. He had a perfect coat and conditioning and was well prepared for Westminster. The great part about it was that he already knew how to show since I had him out at various shows for a couple of years. This year he had everything going for him on the campaign trail, being at Westminster was not new to him, and Baby Lars was very comfortable in the show ring. Going in with a seasoned dog was perfect because you know as his breeder and handler that he knows should show. Temperament is outstanding and very social. Would be the party animal if he were a human! The most popular kid in school! Fun fact about Baby Lars is his name is a nickname. His fathers name is lars so I called him Baby Lars.
(Photo Credit: F. Clark for Westminister Kennel Club)
What was it like to win the herding group at Westminster?
This was not the first time Baby Lars had placed in the group at Westminster, but winning is a different story. I always thought it would be nice to win and have a chance at best in show. It was another thing I can say that Baby Lars has done. It was a very exciting moment and awesome achievement.
How has competing with Baby Lars affected your relationship?
When you campaign a dog for 2.5 years as I have with Baby Lars you become very bonded. It’s been a lot of fun to work with him and I can read him like a book. He was a very easy traveler so travelling to various shows with him was simple and pleasant. The first thing he would do when we got to a hotel room was run on the bed the minute he entered. I wouldn’t even have closed the door in the hotel and he would have already jumped on the bed and made himself very comfortable. Baby Lars is a very exciting dog to show and everyone around him just loved him. When you have a dog like him that’s just wonderful.
How do you see nutrition influencing how a dog does in the show ring?
It’s the condition of the dog and how they look, and that’s all part of the nutrition that impacts a dog in the show ring. Eating a well-balanced diet is very effective in having a dog that has a great condition and that really does show when you are in the show ring.
(Photo Credit: Ian Lynch)
Why is it so important for the dog be fed a good quality food? What success have you seen with this food?
It’s important for a dog to be fed a good quality food as it really impacts the dogs overall coat and their conditioning. Having good nutrition from a good dog food effects the dog as they are growing and throughout their life. I have had success with feeding Purina® Pro Plan® Sensitive Skin and Stomach.
Now that he is retired after his big win, what is next for baby lars? Do you have any plans to compete in other CKC sports?
I wish I could do obedience and agility with Baby Lars but it all depends on the time we have. I am working with my next dog Phoenix and working with him on dog shows. Baby Lars still comes to dog shows and watches Phoenix and the other dogs.
Why Pro Plan®?
Pro Plan® stands for advanced nutrition. Everything we do has a singular focus - creating nutrition that helps bring out the very best in your dog. Our formulas are backed by science and research from a team of over 500 global pet experts including pet nutrition experts, veterinarians, behaviourists, and immunologists. Every high-quality ingredient is carefully chosen for a specific purpose.
Nutrition that Performs®
Year after year exceptional dogs are fueled by our food
11 of the last 12 Westminster Best in Show Champions were fed Pro Plan®†
In Canada in 2018, 7 of the top 10 conformation dogs were fed Pro Plan®
†Handlers or owners of these champions may have received PRO PLAN Food as Purina ambassadors.