On Thursday morning, Little River resident Cherie McDaniel packed up her things and three miniature pinscher dogs and headed for New York City.
McDaniel, an emergency room nurse at McLeod Seacoast Medical Center in Little River, is competing in the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Judging for the event begins Feb. 13 and 14. A live television coverage schedule can be found at westminsterkennelclub.org/plan-your-visit. The “best in show” category airs live at 8 p.m. Tuesday on FS1.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said McDaniel, who’s been twice. “There’s such a spirit in the air. There’s some beautiful dogs there … and usually are very well trained. It’s just an interesting show to see all champions competing for breed.”
For McDaniel, showing dogs at various events across the country is a family business.
“When I was about four or five, my mother used to raise collies and show them,” McDaniel said. “Then she moved on into the poodle. The miniature and the toy poodle. And I showed some of the poodles at the junior showmanship before I was 10 years old. I had two poodles through college, then I got into Yorkshire terriers, I had an old English sheepdog, I had an English bulldog, and I’ve showed continuously for about the past 50 years.”
While McDaniel has not won any awards during her time at the Westminster Dog Show, she has won various other awards across the country with her 15 miniature pinschers, which are all champions or grand champions.
“All of these dogs out here are champions or grand champions,” McDaniel said. “And I don’t breed dogs unless they are champions. I’ve just had some very nice wins. I do very well on international specialty. This past year I had two dogs that were in the Best of Breed competition and both placed very highly, so that was a nice compliment to both of them. I won best female in 2014 and also with another girl back in 2009.”
McDaniel breeds, raises, trains and shows miniature pinschers, giving her the opportunity to acclimate them to the competitive world from birth.
“It starts when they’re babies,” she said. “And we start picking them up and putting them up on a table and talking to them, telling them how pretty they are, giving them little treats here and there. And they enjoy it. And then you move on to the leash training. And you use treats and just work with them and talk to them. A lot of positive reinforcement so that every time they see a leash they get so excited.”
McDaniel primarily competes in the confirmation show, where judges determine how well a purebred dog conforms to its breed type. Judges look for things such as gait, bone structure, coat texture, the color of the eye, the pigment around the eyes and obedience.
All of the features are determined by the American Kennel Club standards.
But, the show starts long before the judges look at the dogs.
“Unfortunately, miniature pinschers show at eight in the morning,” McDaniel said. “So I’m up at five in the morning trying to get everybody organized for the show … making sure they don’t overeat in the morning and trimming them. Making sure they have enough exercise, and they’ve done their duty outside. You don’t want them to do that in the ring. And taking them to the building early enough so that they get acclimated to the acoustics, flooring and all the noise.”