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Basset Hound Club of America publication

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Basset Hound Club of America publication

The Daily Breeze
February 15, 2001

Torrance basset back from NY show

Muddy, owner savor experience

By Josh Grossberg

A Torrance basset hound came home from the Westminster Dog Show empty-pawed Wednesday, according to high-ranking insiders.

Muddy, the 3-year-old hound, entered the prestigious New York contest at the behest of his owner, Karen Spillane. The pair traveled to new York over the weekend to compete against a dozen other bassets.

Spillane said she had a wonderful time, despite losing the event.

“We saw the most gorgeous dogs and well behaved,” Spillane said. “There were the most loving I’ve seen in my life.”

Despite the breed’s reputation for being cuddly, Spillane denied that the dogs at the event were anything of the kind, at least not when they were being judged.

“Cute is a word I wouldn’t use,” she said. “They were there for a purpose.”

For his part, Muddy had a wonderful time, his spokeswoman said, although he developed a fondness for the company of small rodents.

“He sniffed and scooted everywhere,” Spillane said. “He discovered squirrels and he had to stop and bark at them. He was really intrigued with squirrels and how they climb trees.”

Muddy, who will be rejoining the dog circuit with trips in the coming weeks to San Diego and Arizona, hopes to try the Westminster Dog Show again next year.

“He had a marvelous time,” Spillane said. “he loved being there. If he ranks next year in the top 10 dogs, we’re going to go. That’s my goal. He’s got a bright future.”

From The Daily Breeze – South Bay
February 11, 2001

Torrance pooch goes on parade

Muddy isn’t just your average hound

By Josh Grossberg

He may be on his way to canine glory, but Muddy, the rumpled basset hound, can only think of one thing: cheese.

Ribbons of drool fall from his fleshy mouth as his owner; Karen Spillane of Torrance, gets his attention with a piece of cheddar as they pose for a picture together.

“He’s a lovable couch potato, very laid back,” she said. “Yet he’s got a hound’s great nose.”

All droppy-eyed and loosey-goosey, the 3-year-old Muddy hardly seems like the stunning climax of generations of breeding, but he is. He’s already won many local and regional awards and, starting Monday, he’ll compete with other members of the pooch pantheon in the Westminster Dog Show in New York.

‘He started winning a lot’

“I was doing it as a hobby, but last summer he started winning a lot,” Spillane said. “If I can do this part time, what can I do if I really go for it?”
The longest continuously running sporting event after the Kentucky Derby, the Westminster Dog Show is now in its 125th year: Only champions, which are vetted through a series of lesser contests, are allowed to participate in the Nobel prize of the canine world.

“They’ve paid their dues through hard work, training and building a rapport with their handler,” said Nancy Matlock, director of communications for the American Kennel Club. “These dogs will be in top show condition and top physical condition. All these dogs are not only excellent specimens, they have a little extra panache.”

Good parallel planes

Muddy currently ranks No. 20 in the world of basset hounds. To become the best, a dog must measure up to a Platonic ideal of dogdom. In his case, Muddy has good parallel planes (the top of his head and snout are in alignment), his back is nice and straight, as are his hocks, or back legs.

Those who might doubt the interests of the Spillane household need only step aside. Aside from Muddy, and his look-alike friends Jake and Elwood, there are basset hound-themed items everywhere: oven mitts, refridgerator magnets, pillows, stuffed animals, the latest copy of Basset Tales magazine, and of course, a wall nearly covered with ribbons from previous victories.

“I never felt about anything the way I feel about Muddy since my children,” said Spillane, who works at home as regional vice president for Bullova Corp.
Spillane and her husband, Philip, travel to various dog shows with Muddy throughout the year. With children grown and gone, they have the time to spend with the pooches. But they don’t treat the dogs like show pieces.
“First and foremost, they are our pets,” Spillane said. “They are a part of the family.”

While she’d be thrilled if Muddy won first place, Spillane said she’s happy with the experience.

“It’s a long shot,” she said. “If you go to win, you’re going to be disappointed. My dog never knows if he won or lost. He gets as much love either way. We’re not going to win, we’re going to have a fabulous time.”

We have all watched it on TV. What a rush it must be, we thought, and look at the size of the ring!

As you read this, we have the invitation in our hot little hands, which is extended to the top five AKC ranked dogs in the USA. We are on our way to New York City to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!

How do you get there, you ask? “Muddy”, CH Symphony’s Maestro, has been on National Campaign for the year, 2001. Working doggedly at getting the invitation, he’s accustom to transcontinental air travel and performing like a pro!

Where is there? There is JFK Airport, the Metropolitan Hotel, at 59th and Lexington, and Madison Square Garden at Pennsylvania Plaza, for the Show.

The fight attendant brings us a “dog boarding pass”, initialed by the captain, confirming Muddy is on the flight. Resting beneath us, in a pressurized and temperature controlled compartment, just like the cabin, but no movie, no nuts!

A “limousine”, New York for van, whisks us to the hotel. We check in and pick up the folding wire crate that was previously sent to the hotel, an essential element for the day of the show.

We find a tree poking up through the concrete, a small ring of earth circles the base of the tree, protected by a short fence. This becomes ‘our spot’. Every trip to the spot is like a walk though Hollywood, with Madonna. We are photographed, chatted up, interviewed, we are celebrities! New York folks are the BEST!


We travel from the hotel to Madison Square Garden in a taxi. Here’s the trick- Karen goes out to the street with the folded create, wheels, and Pedigree duffel bag, with the show stuff. I hide in the shadows with the dog in my arms. A cab stops. The driver opens the trunk and puts the stuff in…Karen gets in…holding the door open. I dive in with the dog- the driver spins around and babbles something in a foreign dialect, I slap a $20 bill in his hand, the cab rockets forward- to “The Garden”!

Wow, it’s nuts!

The push in to our “bench” was truly exciting. A crush of folks and dogs all in great spirits, broad smiles, an occasional hand shake or back slap from a complete stranger, telling us how much “We really love Basset Hounds” and “Good Luck”!

It’s like a supermarket; the signs hang from the ceiling defining the isle. We park in the Basset Isle and realize we are in a dog petting zoo for the next six hours. “Can I pet him? Can I take his picture? What’s his name? Where are you from? How did you get here? Why is he so sad?”

Entering The Garden is awesome! Realizing all that have come before you, the 126th year of The Westminster Kennel Club Show, not to mention the human athletes and rock stars that have performed there. And here you are… who would have thought? It’s humbling and at the same time makes you realize, dreams can come true, with hard work and commitment.

There is no ring fence, just a velvet rope; a solid wall of spectators makes up the border. The base of the judging ramp is chrome, the breed ring is tiny; we look forward to the competition…Here we go!

“Good Luck in Group”, all our Basset Hound friends said, as they left the show grounds for the day. They leave us on our “onesies” to take on all the unknown demons of Hound Group competition, much later that afternoon.

Early in our quest for championship points with our first show dog, through a bizarre and cruel twist of fate, we won Best of Breed. Our total dog show experience until that fateful day always started about eight AM and was over by eight-thirty AM, having either won the points for that event or just having another exciting morning at a dog show. But now we got The Breed and found ourselves dispatched on to a place called “Group”.

The Group ring is HUGE. We know not a single solitary sole, not a friendly face in the crowd. There are conversations going on all around us, we speak with no one but watch with awe in our eyes. We are the chosen Basset Hound pitted against the Hound Universe.

A fellow competitor explains our place in the line, “behind the PBGV or Beagle since Bassets are slow”. “Don’t worry”, our new friend said, “ Bassets never get picked in Group” … what a relief. She is right on the money- we don’t get picked, but now that we have been here…we want a placement!

We are blessed with good fortune and an excellent Basset, Champion Symphony’s Maestro, “Muddy”, and found ourselves representing the Basset Hound breed in the Hound Group more and more often, over time. One day to our amazement, a delightful lady with a Bloodhound that regularly wins in Group says, “that’s a really nice Basset Hound”. “Thank you, but Basset Hounds never get picked in Group”. “That dog’s nice enough to win in Group” she says, and as they say … the rest is history.

The lady is Gretchen Schultz, a second-generation Southern California professional handler, and with her husband Bruce, they are “Camp Schultz”, AKC certified professional handlers and members of the Professional Handlers Association.

All because of Bruce and Gretchen’s belief in “one nice Basset”, we closed 2001 with 46 Best of Breed wins, 436 Breed Points, 1640 All Breed Points, 3 Group First’s, 2 Group Second’s, 3 Group Third’s, and 4 Group Fourth’s. As one judge told us “it’s a total package we look for, especially in Group”.

It’s an awesome feeling to get a Group placement, to know on that given day, your dog is one of the “Best of the Best” on the show grounds. The ribbons are big and the trophies are keepsakes. The show officials and sponsoring club officers all gather round as the cameras flash and the prizes are presented. “Top Dog People” stop you and congratulate you on the win and say what a nice dog you have. It’s a different level of competition and definitely “The Other Dog Show”.

Crossroads Bassets …

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