Ricky Heads to Westminster!

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off Monday February 13. Among the show dogs competing for green-carpet glory, you’ll find Kingston, Ontario’s own Ricky (or, properly, CKC Ch/UKC Ch/AKC Grand Champion JayKay Richelieu Rules, RN). Ricky is a 7-year-old Canaan Dog, and before he hit the road to Manhattan, we spoke to his owner Genny (who also owns Mr Spot Dog Camp in Kingston) about how Pet Valu has played a part in Ricky’s pre-show routine.

Tell us a little about Ricky, how long has he been a show dog?
Ricky was born to be a show dog! He won the Puppy Sweepstakes at the 2010 Canaan Dog Club of America National Specialty in Ohio, just after his first birthday, defeating fourteen Canaan dog puppies under 18 months. He is a natural in the show ring and quickly earned his AKC, CKC and UKC Championships… the only Canaan Dog having all three titles!

Ricky’s biggest Best of Breed win was the 2016 Canaan Dog Club of America National Specialty in Romulus, NY. This achievement earned him the invitation to the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Show; he also finished in the top 5 Canaan Dogs in the US.

Canaan Dogs are somewhat rare, can you tell us more about that?

Ricky_BestinSweepst#15CF921The Canaan Dog is from the area now known as Israel, and primarily the Negev Desert. Pre-biblical drawings and carvings dating back 4,000 years have been found depicting dogs very similar to the Canaan Dog we know today. The Bedouins and Druse people used, and still use, Canaan Dogs to guard their flocks and camps.

It wasn’t until 1934 that the Canaan Dog was domestically bred, when Professor Rudolphina Menzel began a breeding program for the Jewish Defense Forces. Finding that traditional working breeds had trouble adjusting to the harsh climate (very hot during the day, very cold at night), Menzel turned her attention to the local wild or semi-wild desert dogs — alert and agile, territorial with highly developed senses. Menzel captured free-living dogs and litters of puppies, naming them Canaan Dogs, and began breeding and training them for military work. Canaan Dogs were the first dogs trained to detect mines, and were used extensively as messenger dogs, watch dogs and for tracking.

They are a relatively new breed in North America, arriving when four Canaan Dogs were shipped to the United States from Israel in 1965. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the Canaan Dogs were recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club (Working Group) and the American Kennel Club (Herding Group).

Canaan Dogs have highly developed senses. Their strong territorial nature and alertness makes them excellent watch dogs. They are not an “attack” dog but bark a warning to any changes in the environment, whether to something they see or hear.

Canaan Dogs are great family pets, and are generally good with children, tolerant and gentle. They are extremely loyal and devoted to their whole family. They are not a hyperactive dog, and their independence means they don’t require non-stop attention from their owners. They are athletic and love to run, but two or three good walks a day will keep them fit. And they are quite happy curled up in their dog bed while you work or watch TV! Canaan Dogs require early and ongoing socialization, and do not assume every stranger is their new best friend — they typically don’t take “candy from strangers!” They are described as being aloof with people they do not know.

Canaan Dogs have a medium length double-coat, and a weekly brush will keep them looking good. They are clean dogs and don’t require special grooming beyond brushing and nail trims.

Canaan Dogs are intelligent and learn quickly, but because of their independent nature, they may not reliably perform a command after they have learned it — especially if asked to do the same thing over and over again. To keep their interest, training exercises should be kept short and varied. Because of their natural alertness, Canaan Dogs often appear to be distracted, constantly watching and listening for any changes to the surroundings.

There are not many Canaan Dogs in North America, and probably little more than a hundred in Canada.

 You must be really excited to be heading to Westminster, can you tell us about what it takes to prepare for a show like that?

Ricky spent a morning prior to leaving at Groomingdale’s in Kingston having his nails trimmed, a good wash and brushing. He will also spend some time on the grooming table prior to show time.

Will Ricky have a good-luck charm in the ring?

Dogs go into the ring with their show lead on only!

Part of Ricky’s pre-show routine involved a trip to Groomingdales, any tips for pet parents who want to keep their pet’s coat in ‘Best in Show’ shape?

Regular vet visits, wash and grooming as required by the specific dog.

It is also important to engage your dog with regular exercise and activities. Ricky now has his Rally Novice title, and is taking a Canine Good Neighbour class.

A great place to learn more about the many dog-sports out there is Mr Spot Dog Camp in Kingston, ON

We hear Ricky is a frequent shopper at Pet Valu Kingston, what are his favourite products?

Ricky enjoys a couple brands of dog food including Performatrin, which is a high quality food, and of course any of the great treats found in the store!

Good luck Ricky, we know you’ll do us proud!