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Ashburn dog to strut her stuff at Westminster Dog Show

Jolie and her handler, Kasey, at a recent show. Courtesy photo.
Jolie, a big, friendly Bernese Mountain Dog, will represent Loudoun County and her breed at the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York on Feb. 16.

The 4-year-old Ashburn dog, who happens to be the number one female Bernese Mountain Dog in the United States, will be showing for conformation in the working group. Since starting her show career in 2014, Jolie has won a championship and a silver grand championship.

Deborah Reams, Jolie’s owner, has been showing Bernese mountain dogs for about ten years. In that time, she’s raised another female champion and a male grand champion.

“I like the camaraderie and the people you meet,” said Reams of the dog show world. “Its just really fun.”

Show dogs require extensive training that is unlike the usual obedience lessons most dogs work on.

Most importantly, says Reams, conformation dogs can’t learn to sit. The dogs have to learn to go around a ring, stretch out and show their gaits and stand still in the middle of the ring without sitting so a judge can look them over.

From an early age, show dogs must be exposed to lots of people, noises and places so they remain calm at big shows.

Part of Reams and Jolie’s job at the shows is to be breed ambassadors. During downtime, the two greet curious potential dog owners and educate them about Bernese Mountain Dogs.

“We call them big lumps,” laughed Reams. “They are very loving and excellent family dogs. You can do anything with them. If you’re active or sedentary, they can adjust to your lifestyle.”

No matter the outcome of the big show, Reams says she’ll be happy just to be there, spending time with Jolie.

“Even just to go is honor,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Bernese.


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