Dog with island ties wins ‘best of show’ at Westminster

March 10, 2017
By Marcy Shortuse

■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
Rumor has it that island resident Pam Buckles is over the moon after the recent Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, particularly since it was her dog that took Best in Show.
Number 22, German shepherd dog GCH Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn, beat out six other dogs on Valentine’s Day, February 14, including an Irish setter in the Sporting Group, a boxer in the Working Group, a Norwegian elkhound in the Hound Group, a miniature poodle in the Non-sporting Group, a Norwich terrier in the Terrier Group and a Pekingese in the Toy Group. Runner-up for Best in Show went to the Irish setter.
The day of the big event, Best-in-Show Judge Thomas Bradley carefully scutinized each of the best in breed prior to making his decision, but when it came time to announce his decision. he did it without even a second’s hesitation. “It was about the most exciting thing ever,” said Rumor’s co-owner Pam Buckles, who has a home on the island with her husband, Andre. “This show was Rumor’s 104th Best in Show win. Her 100th Best in Show was taken at the AKC National Championship.”
Pam, who also has homes in Ohio and Michigan and has been on-island for more than two decades, has been showing dogs since 2000. She started showing with Shelties, though, not German shepherd dogs. You may have seen her current Sheltie, Brother, around town with her. “Wherever I go, he goes,” Pam said.
“My first show dog took number one in every competition for a year and a half, until he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. We retired him, then we lost him. It took me another 12 years to find my next ‘special’ Sheltie. Showing dogs is very expensive. It takes time, money and a lot of heart.”
When it was time for Pam to find her next top dog, she called her friend Jim Moses, a legendary breeder who has been listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as owner of the top winning dogs of all time. He worked for Jane Firestone in finding her top German shepherd dog, Manhattan.
“We had competed in the same group, and I knew he could help me find a dog,” Pam said. “So in 2011 he co-owned my Sheltie named Brother with me. He then said that if he was going to have a Sheltie with me, I needed to have a German shepherd with him, so we got Ike, Rumor’s dad.” Brother is retired now, but Pam has two other Shelties living in Colorado who she considers to be “specials.” A “special” is a champion dog with the highest qualifications, so high a new category was developed.
While many dogs can be champions, only certain dogs are considered to be “special.” This was the second time a dog from the Herding Group has won the top prize at Westminster. The first was in 1987, and was also a German shepherd. Rumor beat out Preston at Westminster this year, a Puli who is considered to be the “top dog” of the year in the entire country. He was also in the Herding category, but Rumor beat him out of the top spot. By the way, last year Rumor held the coveted “top dog” spot in America.
“She was number one in all of the country last year,” Pam said. “With the Puli being number one dog this year and in the same group as Rumor, we thought the prize might go to the Puli. But we beat the Puli and took the Herding Group … she is just a spectacular animal.”
Five-year-old Rumor is now officially retired and lives in Edgerton, Wisconsin with her co-owner/handler/breeder Kent Boyles and his family. It was Kent’s children who had a hand in naming Rumor, as a matter of fact. When each of Kent’s dogs has a litter, they use a different letter of the alphabet. When Rumor’s litter was born, every one of the dogs had a name that began with an R. Kent’s kids listen to a lot of popular music, so they decided on the name Rumor Has It, which is a current song by a singer named Adele.
“When she won Best in Show, they played that song,” Pam said. The rest of her rather long name is derived from her Grand Champion – GSH – status, and Lockenhaus Kennel, the name of the kennel Rumor’s co-breeder owns. Kenlyn is Kent Boyle’s kennel name. While Rumor may be retired, she is still incredibly busy. This week she was headed off to meet with some of the Chicago Cubs players.
Right after her big win she took a tour of New York City and met some of the city’s finest men in blue, who instantly fell in love with her. She also got her traditional steak dinner at Sardi’s. While the cameras rolled and flashbulbs flashed, Rumor got down to business with her meal, taking some bites directly from her handler’s hand and others daintily from a fork.
“Dogs who have won Best of Show at Westminster have been going there since Sardi’s opened,” Pam explained. “It’s tradition. I will admit, though, that Brother did go on Rumor’s press tour, so he had steak, too. It was funny, because wherever we went, people said, ‘Look, there’s Lassie and Rin Tin Tin!’”
Eventually the hullabaloo will die down, and Rumor will be able to ensconce herself in the quiet life of Wisconsin, playing with her cat friend Mittens, chasing the random stick and leaving the big dogs to run for the roses while she enjoys life on the porch.