Edmund Dziuk’s love for canine began with a motorbike trip to his native grocery retailer in Hagerstown, Maryland.
As a teen, Dziuk was biking and listening to promotions for the annual canine present on the county fairgrounds, only a quick bike trip away from his childhood house.
His household started to attend the exhibits annually, and what started as a curiosity for Dziuk grew to become a fascination with canine that has lasted 40 years.
He has since turn out to be the proprietor and breeder of champions, and this week will return for the third time as a choose on the 146th Annual Westminster Kennel Membership Canine Present in New York Metropolis.
America’s oldest and maybe most prestigious canine present was initially scheduled for January however needed to be postponed due to the pandemic. It has been rescheduled for June 20 to 22.
A breeder of prize-winning beagles himself, will likely be judging 15 breeds within the hound group, practically 100 canine in complete. He’s authorized as a choose not just for hounds but in addition a number of sporting, non-sporting and toy breeds, in addition to finest in present and junior showmanship.
A childhood with canine
All through his childhood, Dziuk was at all times surrounded by an assortment of purebred and combined breeds. He attributes his love for canine to rising up in a household that shared that love.
“I grew up in a household the place everybody was animal loopy, canine loopy, canine lovers, and we had a wide range of completely different pets,” he mentioned.
The household grew to become members of the native kennel membership, and Dziuk ended up studying sufficient to point out canine himself.
The primary beagle joined the household in 1977, and Dziuk would take the canine to the highest on the American Kennel Membership Junior Showmanship competitors.
“I completed her championship, and for 2 years I used to be the Quantity One AKC Westminster Junior Handler within the nation displaying the beagle,” he mentioned.
To finish a championship or a champion of report, the canine should end a specified variety of exhibits the place judges analyze how carefully the canine matches its breed and customary qualities.
In 1981, Dziuk returned to put fourth within the Westminster Junior Showmanship Finals competitors, his final yr competing as a junior.
All the time with beagles
Since then, he has not spent a single day and not using a beagle by his aspect.
“I’ve gone by means of completely different phases of my life the place I’ve had fairly a couple of or only a handful,” he mentioned. “They weren’t my pets; they have been my companions.”
Considered one of his canine, a nationally acknowledged beagle named Uno, positioned finest in present at Westminster in 2008. Uno would go on to go to the White Home, meet George W. and Laura Bush, make a number of tv appearances and turn out to be a licensed remedy canine.
He spent his final years on a 200-acre farm in Texas, dying of most cancers at 13.
The canine’s grandniece, referred to as Miss P, would additionally compete and win Westminster, one other triumph for Dziuk and the canine’s co-owners.
However earlier than Uno and Miss P, there was Judy, a canine who nonetheless holds the report for the highest 13-inch beagle of all time, Dziuk mentioned.
Westminster Director of Communications David Frei instructed ABC Information in 2015 that after profitable finest in present, there may be nothing extra to realize. Usually then, the canine will retire.
A pivot to judging
Whereas Dziuk nonetheless exhibits canine, he started to focus extra on judging in 2009. Two years in the past, he was invited to be a choose at Westminster, not just for beagles but in addition of different breeds, together with dachshunds and Bassett hounds.
“It was very a lot a full-circle second exhibiting and profitable in 1980 after which 40 years later, coming again and with the ability to choose beagles,” he mentioned.
The Westminster Canine Present has three ranges of competitors the place judges should evaluate the competitor to the usual or perfect specimen of the breed.
These requirements are maintained and owned by the nationwide membership of every breed, with approval by the American Kennel Membership.
Judges like Dziuk analyze the requirements of every breed — basic look, motion, temperament and bodily traits equivalent to top, weight, eye shade, coat sort, shade and extra. The choose then decides which canine is the most effective within the breed that day.
After a choose selects the most effective of breed, the canine transfer on to a bunch competitors. The American Kennel Membership now acknowledges 209 breeds of canine which might be then divided into seven teams — hounds, working canine, terriers, toy canine, and sporting, non-sporting and herding canine.
The group winners advance to the Greatest in Present competitors the place one canine shines above the remainder.
Bettering breed well being
“It ties full circle, and I’m very fortunate that, wow, canine breeding and displaying is my interest factor however it has developed into having this place,” he mentioned.
The muse works instantly with breeders to make sure that every litter is as wholesome as attainable by encouraging well being testing earlier than they breed. The aim is to enhance the well being and welfare of canine by lowering the incidence of inherited illness.
“We have now upwards of 15,000 completely different check outcomes coming right here every month, so although it’s a nonprofit, it’s a hefty enterprise operation,” Dziuk mentioned.
The muse just lately pledged $1.5 million to MU College of Veterinary Medication to assist fund the Small Animal Molecular Genetics Laboratory to proceed laboratory work and analysis over the subsequent decade.