Abbie doesn't flaunt the fact that she is a celebrity. Her awards and photographs stashed away, Abbie offers a warm welcome to those she entertains.
And it is that good nature that may be one of her most endearing qualities, said her owner Marion Daniel. She is a model specimen, and Abbie has the medal to prove it.
The yellow Labrador Retriever's real name is Ch. Mar-Moye Love Affair At Kai Den, WC (working certificate), and she recently won an Award of Merit at the Westminster Kennel Club's 128th Annual Dog Show held Feb. 9-10 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Entry was limited to 2,500 AKC Champions.
Abbie, as she is called, competed against 34 dogs in the Sporting Group and was one of four dogs to receive an Award of Merit.
"It's making the statement that in the judge's opinion, the dog deserves to be recognized because the dog is equal to the Best of Breed, but they can only give out one award. It is quite an honor," Daniel said. "It's kind of like an honorable mention."
Unlike a beauty contest, entrants don't compete against each other. They are judged using the breed standard - a written description of the ideal specimen of that breed including general appearance, movement, temperament and physical traits such as height and weight, coat, color, eye color and shape, ear shape and placement, feet and tail.
Daniel, who typically attends 12 to 15 dog shows a year, is the owner/handler of the 75-pound, 3-year-old Abbie.
The two arrived in New York on the Sunday before the event, and Daniel went to the show the next day to help "get the butterflies out."
A friend who is a handler trimmed Abbie's tail, but other than that, she required little grooming.
The experience was not as overwhelming as she had imagined it would be.
"I was among all of my friends," she said. "I knew 99 percent of the people there, including the judge. I knew I had produced a dog that was worthy of being there. Whether I won or not didn't matter."
True anxiety didn't set in until the judge made her second cut from the pack, and Daniel knew she had a shot at winning.
"She had made two cuts, and I didn't want to get left out now," she said.
To enter Westminster, a dog first has to be awarded 15 points at dog shows to be ranked as a Champion. Depending upon the level of competition at a show, a win will earn a dog a single point or major points - three, four or five points. For example, Daniel said there has to be at least 12 male dogs to make it a three-point major and 20 to make it a four-point major. To become a champion, the points have to total 15, but at least two of those wins have to be from a major competition.
When she first started showing as a 6-month-old puppy, Abbie was off to a quick start, earning back-to-back major competitions at her first show in Charleston, S.C.
"With both of her majors under her belt, it was smooth sailing from then on," Daniel said.
While some focus solely on winning, Daniel said her purpose is to improve the breed and have fun doing it.
"I meet so many people from all over the world," she said. "The beauty of the dogs, the people you get to meet, the friends you establish - they are lasting relationships. Winning is the frosting on the cake."
For more information about Abbie's appearance at the famous dog show, visit www.westminsterkennelclub.org or www.marmoye.com.
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