By Robert Frank
Ste. Dorothée resident Anton Sagh and his trusty Hungarian-born dog Falko will be front and centre under the bright lights in Madison Square Garden the week after next, for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show—the granddaddy of North American canine competitions.
Falko is a Hungarian wirehaired vizsla (pronounced VEEZ-shlah), a rare breed that will be featured for the first time in this year’s competition in Manhattan, Feb. 16-17.
“Falko was invited to attend the show,” Sagh told The Suburban. “That’s quite unusual. Most dogs have to apply.”
He explained that Falko earned American champion status in just five consecutive days at the end of August, an outstanding achievement in a fiercely competitive dog show world where it usually takes months, if not years, to earn the champion title.
“It’s because he’s an exceptional dog,” Sagh said in an interview. “On his confirmation—how he looks and stands, proportion-wise—and in relation to the standards for his breed. Also for his gait: You have to present him so the judge can see how he moves.”
“He has also thrived in field competitions, where the dogs have to find birds,” he continued. “The dog has to find them and go on point to show you where they are.”
More than 2,700 dogs are entered in the competition, which is second only to the Kentucky Derby as oldest continuously held sports competition in the United States.
The breed was created in Hungary during the 1930s, by crossing smooth-haired vizslas with German shorthaired pointers. Wirehaired vizslas have an excellent reputation as intelligent, energetic hunting dogs and retrievers, well-suited to wide-open spaces.
“Wirehairs are more suited to the Canadian climate than their soft-hair counterparts,” Sagh explained. “They were developed by hunters and falconers to thrive in northern Hungary’s winter climate.”
The word vizsla means ‘seek’ in Turkish and ‘point’ in Hungarian.
As chairman of Vizsla Canada’s wirehaired vizsla committee, Sagh engages in vigorously promoting the breed. More information about the breed is available at vizslacanada.ca. Details about the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show are available at westministerkennelclub.org
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