Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has Perth grand-pawrents howling praises

Daisy the whippet was chosen as Select Bitch during the Westminster Kennel Dog Show in New York May 11 to 14. She is pictured with handler Laura Kieffer after earning her title. The dog is owned by Capt. Elisa Holland of Kingston. Photo credit: Diane Han.
Posted on: May 19, 2024

Capt. Elisa Holland’s little whippet, Daisy, is Select Bitch in the show


There’s a Perth connection to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, that took place May 11 to 14 in New York City. 

Ray and Elaine Hook are the proud grand-pawrents to Daisy the whippet. Their daughter, Capt. Elisa Holland, is Daisy’s owner/handler and lives and works in Kingston. 

Photo credit: Diane Han.

Daisy was named the Select Bitch in the whippet category. It was the second time this 2.5-year-old pup has made an appearance at this show. 

“We watched on a Zoom shared-screen with Elisa in Kingston,” Ray said. “Talk about shared live excitement!”

Ray said his daughter’s whippets, “Oksana — Daisy’s mom, Tabitha and Daisy — are our grand-dogs!”

The Westminster dog show’s annual event showcases over 2,500 top-tier purebred dogs from around the world. It was established in 1877, it is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, after the Kentucky Derby. The show features a wide range of breeds competing in various categories such as conformation, agility, and obedience, culminating in the coveted Best in Show award – this year it was won by a miniature poodle named Sage. 

Daisy’s full name is: Am GCH Can GCH UKC Ch Vrymeer Sonata CGN SDIN.

“When Daisy was picked as Select Bitch, we were bursting with happiness,” Ray said. “Elisa is devoted to her ‘fur babies’ and works tirelessly with them on training and fitness, while balancing a full-time military career. She has proved that you can achieve success by hard work and dedication. We are very proud of her and happy for her too. What a thrill to share live.”

Daisy was handled by professional Laura Kieffer, who stole the spotlight with her grace and poise. This marked Daisy’s second year at Westminster, selected through a competitive process involving top-ranked champions and a subsequent lottery.

Holland, who co-owns Daisy with Laurie Rusticus, shared insights into the rigorous preparation leading up to the show. Training began with puppy classes, followed by advanced handling seminars. Daisy’s routine included treadmill workouts and road work alongside fun activities like Frisbee and lounging.

Achieving a champion title in the USA involves earning points by defeating a specified number of dogs in competitions, a challenge especially for owner-handlers. Holland said she has completed her championship and grand championship despite a busy schedule and her husband’s deployment.

In the past year, Daisy accumulated impressive accolades, including a Reserve Best in Show in Canada and a Best in Show in the USA. These achievements positioned her well for Westminster, where the competition included top-ranking whippets.

Holland said she’s proud of her whippet’s performance, emphasizing that Daisy’s wellbeing and happiness are paramount. Following the show, Daisy returned to her playful routines, unfazed by the fame, Holland said. The pup was most happy to relax in the hotel bed with her. 

Holland is deeply involved in the dog showing community, holding leadership roles in clubs and organizing events. Her advice to aspiring competitors is to engage with local clubs, volunteer, and maintain good sportsmanship. The ultimate reward, she notes, is the bond with one’s pet.

Looking ahead, Daisy’s future includes continued participation in performance events and enjoying life as a beloved pet, Holland said.  

The journey showcases the importance of dedication, a supportive team, and prioritizing the dog’s happiness above all.

Holland said Daisy absolutely loves the spotlight. “The more people clap and pay attention to her the more she is happy!”

As for how these prestigious competitions will impact the pup, Holland said she’s not sure yet. 

“People know who Daisy is now, so hopefully it will help in future but she is always a pet first and doesn’t mean will she will be out every weekend or massive travelling across the country as we don’t have funds for this … We are now gearing up for a specialty show in September held in conjunction with Oakville Kennel Club (all breed shows) and fundraising to buy some equipment for future events. As I love showing dogs, I am privileged that some of my friends allow me to show their dogs in both Canada and US (not as a professional but mainly because I love to show dogs). I also love working with juniors and new exhibitors and helping them avoid some of the mistakes I made and showing that it can be good community. Like all sports there is a negative side and sometimes ugly side but I really try to focus on showing that with hard work, patience, mentoring, practice, honestly you can achieve goals.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News