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Posted: March 8, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Top Dog

Local pup wins Best of Breed at 2009 Westminster dog show

Submitted Photo/

At the Westminster: Oreo, whose full name is Musicbox Double Stuff'd, stands proudly with Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show judge KiKi Kahn, left, and handler Kayley Kovar after winning the Best of Breed for Lowchens.

An Oxford dog made a great showing on the national stage at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, winning the prize of "Best in Breed."

Oreo, a spritely little black and white Lowchen owned by Donna Jones of Music Box Bichons & Lowchen kennel, Rick Day, and Mary Spruiell, is no stranger to accolades, though she’s only a year and a half old. She won "Best of Opposite Sex" for her breed at this past December’s American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship.

"She loves the show ring," said Jones. "She loves to stand on her hind legs and wave her paws at the crowd. She’s a good representative of her breed." Oreo’s sister won the Best of Breed distinction at last year’s Westminster.

Jones said, "I’ve always had dogs and when I moved back to the Atlanta area from Myrtle Beach I was interested in getting a show dog." She ended up getting a Bichon Frise, but realized one dog was not enough. "If you only have one little dog to show, it can make for a long day," she explained. "I wanted another dog I could show in conjunction with the same temperament but maybe a little less coat hair."

In the Lowchen and its distinctive lion haircut – the hind end and legs are shaved, save for tufts around its paws – she found a match. Though they are related to the Bichon Frise, they have a wavy coat instead of a curly coat, which comes in all sorts of colors. She described the breed as being a very loyal dog that "love their owners to death," and are extremely athletic. "They’re a fun little dog," she said.

"It’s an older breed than most people realize," said Jones. "It goes back to the Renaissance." The Lowchen, which means "little lion" in German, reportedly was a companion pet to the ladies of the courts of Europe, who would use the little dogs as living "hot water bottles" in bed, warming their feet on the bare part of the dog.

During World War II, the breed nearly died out but was preserved by the efforts of a few dedicated breeders. At one point, it held the dubious distinction as the rarest dog in the world. Because of the low numbers, it was only established as a breed with the American Kennel Club less than a decade ago, said Jones.

Jones got her first Lowchen about eight years ago and has been breeding and showing them ever since.

Showing dogs is a communal effort, she said. Although Jones enjoys showing her own dogs, she’s delegated the more travel-intensive specialized showing. At the Westminster, Oreo was brought out by a professional handler from Houston, Kaycey Kovar.

"My forte is having the puppies and socializing the puppies and doing the shows in the area," Jones said.

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