Stephen Dainard’s work as a dog show judge has taken him around the globe, but he was especially excited when he got the call to represent Canada at a competition early next year in New York.
The 53-year-old mortgage agent from Niagara Falls, Ont., has been invited to be a panelist at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show.
“It’s the second-oldest sporting event in the U.S. behind the Kentucky Derby,” Dainard said in an interview. “(It has a) level of notoriety, and all of the glamour associated with the Big Apple.”
He will be one of four Canadian judges. Michael and Rosemary Shoreman of Phelpston, Ont., and Toronto’s Pamela Bruce will also be making their Westminster debuts.
Dainard was only recently able to spill the beans about the gig when the judging lineup was officially announced.
“You’re sitting on pins and needles, because you want to run out and tell all your friends and family,” he said. “But of course you can’t.”
While Dainard has volunteered at the show as a ring steward, helping to assure that all the show dogs are in the right places at the right time, this will be his first time as a Westminster judge.
Dainard has been in the dog show world since childhood, when his parents took their purebred English springer spaniel to a dog show at his aunt and uncle’s suggestion. The whole family loved it and Dainard knew it was something he wanted to continue.
“All my summers growing up as a teenager were devoted to going to dog shows,” he said.
Licensed by the Canadian Kennel Club, his judging assignments have taken him to Australia, Mexico, Colombia China and South Korea. He’s returning to China for a dog show in Beijing next summer and has an assignment in Argentina in the fall.
“The people that are part of the clubs really respect the fact that you’ve taken time to travel these great distances, and also to be a part of their culture,” he said.
Geographically, he added, “there are no boundaries in dogs.”
The Westminster Dog Show is set for Feb. 12 and 13. A portion of the competition is held at Madison Square Garden.
Maija Kappler, The Canadian Press