2019-02-20 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

When 2,800 dogs competed in the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last Monday and Tuesday, the Hound Group winner Burns, a Longhaired Dachshund, was so “on fire,” so animated and such a crowd pleaser, he helped spectators at home and in the Garden understand why people fall in love with the sport of showing dogs; and why people fall in love with dogs they’ve never met.

Burns was one of the six contenders for Westminster Best In Show (BIS), an honor bestowed on King, a Wirehaired Fox Terrier. Only the highly qualified Best In Show judge puts his hands on the Group Winners in the final line-up, and only this judge can determine which dog best exemplifies its specific breed standard to earn the title Westminster Best In Show.

I am not disputing the Westminster winner. Just qualifying to enter Westminster is an honor. Furthermore, with such an illustrious field of top champions, to achieve recognition in his breed, variety or group makes each dog a winner.

Burns begins to “fly” around the Garden during the Westminster Hound Group. Burns begins to “fly” around the Garden during the Westminster Hound Group. Burns retired from the ring after Westminster, right after becoming many people’s favorite “hot dog.” This stubby-legged Doxie with long, flowing coat sparkles with charisma that ignites as he’s energized by cheers of the audience. A Dachshund has never won BIS at Westminster, even though there are three varieties of the breed—smooth, wire-haired and longhaired. This year a total of 76 Dachshunds were entered at Westminster, more than any other breed, plus Dachshunds were the featured breed at the pre-Westminster press conference at Top of the Rock.

•What’s in a Name? Burns (GCHP DC Walmar-Solo’s OMG SL JE) was born on the Bayou August 20, 2011. He is seven and a half. “GCHP” means he is an AKC grand champion platinum. His breeders are Kim Vidrine and her mother Paula Carter of Solo Dachshunds from Lake Charles, LA. He’s named for George Burns in the 1977 movie “Oh, God!” when God (George Burns) comes to earth and tries to convince assistant grocery manager (John Denver) that he is really God. The OMG in Burns’ pedigree name stands for “Oh, My God!” because of the deified Wow factor Burns exudes. Some believe dogs are divine because God spelled backwards is “dog.” Oops­— I’ll let you in on a secret—Burns’ inner circle of family and friends call him “George” rather than “Burns.”

Carlos Puig, Burns, Theresa Nesbitt in Benching Area before 2019 WKC Best In Show. Carlos Puig, Burns, Theresa Nesbitt in Benching Area before 2019 WKC Best In Show. “Dachshund” means “badger hound” in German because they were first bred to hunt badger and other small den-dwelling quarry. Burns has performance titles. The SL at the end of his name is a field dog title while the JE stands for the title Junior Earthdog. Burns is more than a pretty face. He can hunt above the ground and underground.

•Team Burns: Besides his breeders Kim and Paula, Team Burns includes his owner/patron/PR agent Dr. Theresa Nesbitt of St. Charles, IL, as well as owners Jean Haverick, Audrey White and Patricia Grant.

Theresa is an OBGYN with special training in maternal-fetal medicine. As an author, lecturer, radio and podcast host, Dr. Theresa says, “I used to deliver babies, now I deliver advice on women’s wellness.” She focuses on nutrition, movement and building healthy brains at any stage of life.

Burns’ handler Carlos Puig, also from the Chicago area, is the guru in Dachshund circles. He and Burns have that electric connection through the leash. Carlos sends Burns out in the ring on a long lead where he poses and then explodes into a Burns ballet jump.

Theresa first became mesmerized with Burns when he was five years old, because Carlos also handles her Glen of Imaal Terriers. (Her Glen Owen Roe won Best of Breed this year.) She met Burns when he was showing occasionally and immediately saw “the Secretariat factor” in him. This dog was truly special. He’s beautiful inside and out. His antics allow the audience to share his joy of exhibiting. Theresa said, “Burns is Everybody’s Dog, and embodies the reasons I fell in love with showing dogs.” Theresa began sponsoring Burns so he could be campaigned at the top levels.

•Burns & Babies: Although Burns has never lived with kids, he’s obsessed with babies. He adores them. He answers babies’ cries with his own unique cry and inspects every passing stroller to make sure the baby is okay. He’s even dragged Carlos from the ring when he sees or hears an infant. Good thing Theresa never took him with her to work in the neo-natal unit.

•Breaking Toe & Show Records: The last two years were a whirlwind for Burns. He began winning many Best In Shows with Carlos. He won Best of Variety (longhaired) at the 2018 Dachshund Club of America National Specialty. He was getting close to tying the 54-yearold Longhaired Dachshund record of 25 BIS. Then, during Thanksgiving weekend, Burns broke his front, pinky toe. He stayed with Dr. Theresa for his vet’s prescribed crate rest. Team Burns was worried he wouldn’t bounce back. But Burns did. In January he tied his variety’s record with 25 BIS; and shortly after, he broke the record with 26 BIS. There was no stopping this Energizer Doxie now.

•Connecting the Hound Group: The 33 breeds in Monday’s Hound Group are made up of sight & scent hounds —diverse in shape and size. Burns, as a wonderful example of a Longhaired Dachshund, connects the dots in the Hound line-up, which starts with the Afghan interspersed with a Bloodhound and Beagles, and ends with a Whippet. With his head profile, flowing coat, and long, outlined ear fringes, Burns resembled an Afghan Mini-Me, thus tying the group together. Burns loves the attention: “Of course, I won the group!” He flashed his Dachshund dimples while dashing toward the TV cameramen.

•Burns Post-Westminster: When Burns won the Hound Group, there was a tremendous response from the Dachshund community, thanking Burns and his team for representing their breed to perfection. Burns will be retiring with Kim and Paula in Louisiana so he can become a therapy dog. What a hit he will be when he visits schools, nursing homes and hospitals! Hopefully, some of his pups will pick up the Burns baton and capture hearts across America too.

One more thing... Can you tell I absolutely ADORE this dog?

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