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An unexpected winner: Carnation dog lover finds a champion in prize pooch
With a squirming, licking, lap full of Dachshund, Patricia O’Hanley is the picture of happiness. She’s supposed to be the picture of a blissfully uneventful retirement, but that’s not very likely with BJ around.
BJ, known professionally as Champion Woldorf’s the Prince Noir, is a grand champion show dog, a minor celebrity in Carnation, and O’Hanley’s best friend. Although he didn’t win his latest big show, the Eukanuba National Championship held Dec. 4 and 5 in Long Beach, Calif., he’s won plenty of other competitions, and he’ll always be a winner to O’Hanley.
“Look at that face, don’t you just love him?” she coos over one of his adorable puppy pictures, and then to the 3-year-old dog in her lap, scrambling to reach the dog biscuit on the table, she adds “You’re the best, you know that?”
He knows, but right now, he just wants to get to that treat!
O’Hanley has raised and shown Dachshunds since the 1950s, but she’s never seen a dog take to showing like BJ. His list of honors includes American and Canadian championships, a Grand Champion award last August, and an International Champion award. He went to the Westminster Dog Show in February, 2009, scoring “no win, but the most wonderful time in the whole world!” O’Hanley said.
It’s not quite what O’Hanley had in mind when she asked her friend and dog handler Cathy Sorenson to pick out a puppy for her next pet.
“He was just supposed to be somebody to sit in my lap as I grew older,” said O’Hanley. “He wasn’t supposed to win.”
In fact, when O’Hanley got BJ home, she immediately broke an essential rule for training a new dog—crating them at night. On his first night, BJ slept in O’Hanley’s bed, and as she told the breeder the next day, “It only took me 24 hours, and he is completely spoiled.”
Sorenson took BJ to his first show, in Chintiminee, Ore., when he was 6 months old. He was there for training, and to get used to other dogs. He did those things, and then won his puppy class, and took home the reserve ribbon from the full class judging.
Soon after that, plans for BJ’s career changed. Sorenson suggested showing him a few more times, enough to make him a champion, and then retire him. Several championships later, “We realized that my pet should have a show career,” O’Hanley said.
At the midpoint in his show career—O’Hanley plans to retire him at age 5—BJ is beginning to explore his retirement options. O’Hanley hopes to enter him in “earth dog” trials, in which dogs are trained to search out prey in underground tunnels, and eventually, to be a therapy dog. “See how wonderful he’d be?” she asks, noting how calm and friendly he is with strangers.
In the near future, though, both he and O’Hanley are probably going to be too busy to think about shows.
“He’s just had his first experience trying to be a dog dad,” O’Hanley said, and the puppies are due soon. Since O’Hanley owns the sire, she will receive a puppy from the litter, if there is a male. Then, the process will start all over again, with the crating or not, the training, and possibly the showing of the new pup.
O’Hanley already has plenty to do on her 175-acre farm, which is a rescue home for about 25 coonhounds, some dachshunds, roosters, and other animals, but she’s happy and excited to take on the extra work.
“He really has made my old age young again,” O’Hanley says, patting a contented BJ.