By Gabe Licht
NEW YORK CITY, NY Thousands of people flocked to New York City for the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Feb. 16 and 17.
Lori Logli, who grooms dogs at Abbie Lake Kennels in Delano, was among them, but not as a groomer or spectator. She had a dog in the competition and it won best in breed.
Logli has a long history of working with dogs.
“When I was in high school, my mom worked at a grooming shop,” Logli said. “After school, I’d go help her wash dogs and she taught me how to groom.”
The woman who owned the grooming show raised Afghan hounds.
Logli not only got into the grooming business, but also the breeding business. She has bred Dalmatians, English Cocker Spaniels, and, most recently, miniature and toy poodles.
Her breeding career spans about 35 years.
For about 20 of those years, she’s been breeding dogs with Terri Meyers.
The two currently own a toy poodle registered under the name LoMar SWAG’s One Tin Soldier, but he goes by Manny.
2014 was quite a busy and successful year for Logli, Meyers, and Manny, leading to the invite to Westminster.
“He got invited because he was in the top 10 toy poodles in the country in 2014,” Logli said.
In fact, he was the No. 3 toy poodle overall. He earned that rank by amassing points at dog shows.
“For every dog show he wins, he earns points for however many dogs he beats in his breed,” Logli said. “Let’s say there’s 20 dogs. If you place No. 1, you get 19 points. Those points go toward his rating in the country.”
Manny competes in dog shows nearly every weekend. He’s been shown in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri.
Those shows are much different than Westminster.
“It’s a much bigger dog show,” Logli said. “Westminster is one of the last benched dog shows. That means you have to be there at a certain time and you can’t leave until a certain time so the public can come see all the breeds that are there.”
Thousands of people from as far away as Japan attend the show.
“There’s tons of spectators and people showing their dogs,” Logli said. “It’s not like a regular dog show here in Minneapolis.”
Winning at Westminster is a big deal, but doesn’t necessarily come with perks.
“People can put it in an advertisement that they’re the winner at Westminster,” Logli said. “As for what it does for us, it doesn’t really do anything. He’s not going to get any more popular. It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. You could win once and never win again.”
That doesn’t mean Logli didn’t have high expectations.
“You always expect your dog to win,” Logli said. “You hope the judge likes your dog. Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog out there.”
As it turned out, Manny was selected as the best toy poodle that day. Nine toy poodles had been entered into the contest, but only five ultimately competed.
Logli had gone to Westminster twice before with someone else’s standard poodles.
“It was different winning with their dog versus my own dog,” Logli said. “With my dog, it was a different kind of excitement.”
Meyers had the job of showing Manny.
“He thinks I’m his play mommy and it’s like he’s saying, ‘I’m not going to show for you,’” Logli said. “He knows it’s business when she shows him. When I show him, he looks at me like, ‘Hahaha, you’re not the boss of me.’”
Learning how to show dogs well takes time.
“Not every Joe Blow can go in and show a dog,” Logli said. “You need to know some tricks to make the dog look good. People who have been doing it longer know little things, like good angles to show your dog. You learn from watching other people win and seeing what they do.”
Veterans also know what coaches are looking for.
“They’re supposed to look at how they’re built and how they move,” Logli said. “Certain breeds have certain characteristics.”
For toy poodles, those characteristics are a happy temperment, their face, whether or not they are a square package and how they move.
“They’re supposed to be judged on how they’re structurally built,” Logli said. “It’s not supposed to be based on behavior.”
Nonetheless, Manny was on his best behavior the day he won.
“He showed really well,” Logli said. “He liked the people. He’s a happy, go-lucky little guy.”
He’ll continue showing off that demeanor at shows for the rest of the year and then retire to be a house pet.