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Rottweiler from St. Catharines going to Westminster Dog Show in New York City

The owner of a four-year-old performance dog from St. Catharines says she never gave a thought to New York City and entering her canine in one of the most coveted competitions there is.

Kim Oatway’s glad she had the nerve to try it, as rottweiler ‘Shield’ revealed his star quality by securing entry in next month’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Shield will be competing in the working dog category highlighting animals with active personalities geared to tasks like guarding property, pulling sleds and performing water rescues.

However, it’s a show category that won’t involve a rigorous performance, like jumping through hoops or over hurdles as typically seen on TV.

And that’s a first for Oatway, who says the dogs she’s owned ’til now have always been about performance.

“I’m not a show person, I’ve always been about performance,” she explained. “Like agility, obedience and that kind of stuff … never done a show dog before.”

Bred by Esmond Rottweilers in Little Britian, Shield was brought to Jane Book’s Dog School as a baby for obedience and agility training just five years ago.

His journey to Westminster started as a result of Oatway being laid up with a bum knee and failing to present during the Canadian Rottweiler Nationals in 2023.

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Shield would pick up two honours, the national specialty and regional specialty awards, at the competition and spur on hired handler Bonnie Fisher to suggest applying to Westminster.

“It was actually her that came to me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about entering this dog in Westminster?’ and I said ‘No,’” Oatway remembers. “It’s just not something that’s ever been on my radar (because) it’s the best of the best.”

After sending in a resume that included a tally of points and awards from a series of other competitions, luck was on the duo’s side as officials at Westminster reached out and confirmed entry.

Shield will be joining 23 other rottweilers and some 2,500 other dogs in the show between May 11 and 14.

Due to nerves, Oatway says she will again give the reins to Fisher who will guide Shield through the competition. But Oatway will be watching ringside with fingers crossed.

“If he even is in the line up (for) in breed, that would be amazing,” she said. “The exciting fact that he’s going is just over the moon for me because I’ve never been.”

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