Couple competes at national dog show

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BELVIDERE - This isn't their first dog show, but it is the first time one local couple will be brining five dogs to the nation's most renowned canine competition.

Handlers Gwen and Kent Meyer, owners of Meyer's Tails Up Farm, are taking five dogs of their clients to compete in the 142nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City starting today. The competitions will take place today and Tuesday at Piers 92/94 and Madison Square Garden. The dog show is the nation's second longest continuously held sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby.

The American Kennel Club recognizes approximately 130 dog breeds to compete in the dog show. Judges are trying to find the pooch that most resembles the breed's standard, Gwen Meyer said. For example, judges look at the canine's body structure, movements and muscle tone.

The couple has never taken this many dogs to Westminster. Of the five dogs the Meyers are brining, two are Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers: Laney, 3, from Tucson, Arizona, is ranked as the No. 1 female Wheaten Terrier in the nation, and Crawford, 2.5, from Naperville, Illinois, is the No. 4 Wheaten Terrier in the country.

Two of the dogs are Bouvier des Flandres, a French herding breed: JT, 3, is a young up-and-coming hopeful, and Jagger, 5, is ranked as the No. 3 Bouvier in the country. Both of the Bouviers are from Minneapolis.

Holly, 3, is an English Setter from Woodstock, Illinois.

The Meyers have competed at Westminster at least 25 times.

"Even though we go every year, it's the most prestigious dog show in the country," Gwen Meyer said. "It's an honor to go and showcase the dogs for our clients."

The couple spent all of Thursday gearing up to travel across the country, which involved hours of preparation including, dieting, grooming, exercise and training.

"Getting a dog ready for a dog show is just like getting an athlete ready for a sporting event," Gwen Meyer said. "Each dog has a specific training program."

Portions of the dog show will be live streamed online. The show also will air on Fox, Nat Geo Wild and FS1.

Meyer's Tails Up Farm, 5390 Irene Road, offers dog training classes at its Belvidere location for those who may be interested in having their dog compete in shows. Meyer's also has kennels in Roscoe and DeForest, Wisconsin.

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