Staffer’s dog heading for Big Apple
By Sarah Carey
A grand champion Siberian Husky owned by UF CVM program assistant Sally O’Connell will be heading for the Big Apple in February to compete in the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. The show will be held Feb. 11-12 in New York City at Madison Square Garden and other venues.
GCH Mileka’s Belle Starr was selected as Best of Breed Siberian Husky at the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship Dog Show in Orlando on December 16. Westminster is her next big show, O’Connell said.
“Thirty-three Siberian Huskies competed from around the U.S. and other countries in the AKC/Eukanuba show,” O’Connell said. Belle Starr, a 5-year-old female, has also amassed wins at several other dog shows for “Best in the Working Group” and “Best in Siberian Husky Specialty” categories. She is currently being shown by handler Jeff Brucker.
O’Connell has been breeding Siberians since 1991.
“Belle Starr has received the most awards of any dog I have bred,” she said. “As of November 30, she was the number nine Siberian Husky in the country competing in all-breed competition.”
O’Connell said that Belle Starr also competed in Westminster last year but at the time, her coat had not grown fully back. Belle Star is a double-coated breed and had shed her coat immediately after the AKC/Eukanuba show. In order to regrow her coat as quickly as possible this year, she is receiving multiple baths and brushings each week. She is also being exercised frequently.
“It is important that a Siberian be quick and light on their feet and in proper condition, as correct movement per the Siberian Husky breed standard is important in judging this breed,” O’Connell said. “To tell the truth, I never thought about continuing to compete a dog once it had finished its championship until professional handlers would see Belle in the ring at dog shows and tell me that she was something really special. She has that sparkle and that ‘look at me’ attitude,” O’Connell said. “The fact that she has done so well with such limited showing is incredible.”