By Jennifer Hoegg
The Hants Journal/NovaNewsNow.com
There are champions hidden away in the Rawdon woods. Small, furry canine champions living with Allison Foley and her family, all ruled over by a female Persian cat named Bob.
Allison Foley moved to South Rawdon from Milton, Ontario, 18 months ago to join husband Todd. The British Columbia native loves the area, “so much prettier and quieter than Ontario!”
With Foley came Leading Edge Dog Show Company, representing several Canadian and American champions. With the help of an employee, the Foleys show dogs for multiple clients throughout North America.
Foley began showing poodles at seven years of age, apprenticed to a shower at 12 and to the top Canadian handler of the time at 16. She has been a professional shower for more than 20 years.
From her smile and her tenderness with the dogs, it’s clear that she loves the work. Her accomplishments speak for themselves: Foley is the only woman in Canada in more than 30 years to have won two Top Dog, All Breeds awards.
Although Foley cares for many of her clients’ dogs, the current stars of this show are owned and bred by Foley – beagle siblings Lil Ed and Ella Enchanted. Both two-year olds earned prestigious prizes at 131st Annual Westminster Kennel Club show in New York this month.
Best of Breed
Ed won Best of Breed in the 13-inch beagle category, while Ella earned 1st Award of Merit in the 15-inch beagle category, two behind Best of Show winner Uno.
Both dogs coped well with the trip, as good show dogs have to, and weren’t upset by the artificial grass and camera flashes of Madison Square Gardens, which Foley said was “crazier than ever. “When we walked to the Gardens, not only was it Monday morning in Manhattan, three fire trucks went roaring by. Lil Ed’s eyes were like saucers!”
Winners are chosen not only for their physical perfection, but also for their temperament. “The dogs who think they’re Madonna do really well! A dog that has star attitude -- there’s nothing like it.” Dogs also need to be good tempered, travel well and adjust to change. A top dog may go to 75 to100 or more shows in a year. “The best show dogs are actually the ones that are the best run-of-the-mill family dogs.”
This was the first time Foley showed her own dogs at the prestigious, nationally televised show, although she has won with clients’ dogs. “Showing my own dogs has given me a new perspective on it. Fresher. No matter what else happens in my career with dogs, I’ve bred and owned two Westminster winners. I’ve peaked!”
Never so popular
Lil Ed has never been so popular, even with a few national Best in Show’s and beagle awards under his collar, Foley said. “Since we’ve been home we’ve had at least 15 emails for beagle puppies and many, many offers to buy or lease Lil Ed at stud.”
In between fielding calls and e-mails, Foley still has much to do. Five dogs call the Rawdon house, with attached dog paddock and kennel, home: the two beagles, a Saluki, a Sheltie and an English Cocker Spaniel. Fifteen dogs, belonging to clients in Alberta, Ontario, PEI, New Brunswick and Rawdon are being groomed, primped and prepped for a show in Suffern, New York.
Lil Ed, however, won’t be competing anymore. “We had decided that Westminster would be his retirement.” Ed is moving on to live with a family in Ontario where four children’s doting will replace the Madison Square Gardens crowd.
Ella, who placed well in shows even as a puppy, will stay in Rawdon to play and travel to a few more dog shows. “We’ll probably breed her a couple of times,” Foley said. Maybe Ella will provide another generation of champion dogs, as her owners continue to successfully run an international business from rural Hants County.
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By Jennifer Hoegg