Jeri Crawford’s life is going to the dogs, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
She breeds Hungarian Kuvasz dogs and plans to show one of them at the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Dec. 17 and 18 in Orlando, Fla.
There, she and her husband, Rick, Summerlin residents who own the Green Valley Grocery convenience stores in Southern Nevada, plan to show their 3-year-old Hungarian Kuvasz, the Grand Champion Zolton II of Silver Meadow, affectionately known as "Zolie."
More than 2,500 dogs of all breeds will be at the show. The couple said they hope their dog will stand out.
"Zolie has a regal presence," Jeri Crawford said.
He also has a good track record. He’s ranked no. 2 by the American Kennel Club for his breed.
The couple also plan to enter another Kuvasz, Silver Meadows Stasia Sztar ("Stasia"), a 2-year-old who is one point away from her championship and already has claimed first-place and best of Breed ribbons.
The Crawfords’ dogs are shown by Dick Schaefer, a professional handler from Acton, Calif. what does he think of their chances?
"I’ve been doing this for 43 years," he said. "sometimes you go into a show thinking you’ve got a really good shot, but the judge doesn’t like him or the dog has an off day. You just never know."
Jeri Crawford is president and CEO of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and acquired her first Kuvasz about seven years ago. She partners with breeder Denise Windham of Windridge Farm in Georgia. Together they have 16 dogs.
Jeri Crawford does a disappearing act at the shows.
"Dick always makes a point to … remind me to stay out of sight," she said, adding that it breaks the dogs’ concentration when they are being judged. "So, I stand in the back or across the ring to watch their performance."
The Hungarian Kuvasz served as a companion to the rulers of European empires and was owned solely by royalty. The name means "armed guard of the nobility." Hundreds of years later, the breed came to be used by common shepherds who found they worked well guarding sheep and cattle.
Don’t expect a Kuvasz to cuddle up to you and sleep the night away. While devoted, gentle, patient and keenly intelligent, they are not overly demonstrative.
"The Kuvasz is not for the first-time pet owner," warned Windham. "It’s very strong-willed … You have to be the alpha."
Even in an innocent game of tug-the-rope, said Windham, you cannot let the Kuvasz win. The Kuvasz weighs about 1 pound at birth, and litters can be as many as 12 pups. By eight weeks, they weigh around 20 pounds. Because they are independent by nature, it is important to acclimate the puppy at an early age to the owner, generally done at 8 weeks old.
The males get to be as big as 130 pounds, important for the role of guard dog. They are reserved when meeting someone new. if an unknown vehicle drives up to the house, the Crawfords’ Kuvaszes assess things by leaning their front paws against the driver’s window and peering in.
The Crawfords have three dogs on the circuit. GiGi is the third one. They are entered in regional shows about every week. every few months, the dogs receive a break from their rigorous show schedule and return home to run free on their 15-acre mountain retreat in Southern California.
The big show in December means putting the dogs in crates and flying them across the country.
"The airlines always take great care of them," said Rick Crawford. "We’re comfortable with it, and we always try to book a nonstop."
The trip will see the dogs entered in three other shows before the Eukanuba. It’s all part of the strategy.
"it gives them the chance to settle down," Jeri Crawford said.
Schaefer said a lot of what makes for a good show dog is its attitude.
"They have to enjoy it," he said. "It’s sort of like a kid playing in Little League. Is he doing it because his parents want him to? Or is he doing it because he enjoys it?"
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.
<a href="http://www.lvrj.com/view/summerlin-couple-s-show-dogs-are-breed-formerly-reserved-for-nobility-134305493.html?ref=493tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.lvrj.com/view/summerlin-couple-s-show-dogs-are-breed-formerly-reserved-for-nobility-134305493.html?ref=493Tue, 22 Nov 2011 08:29:01 GMT”>Summerlin couple’s show dogs are breed formerly reserved for nobility