Raleigh pup to compete in Westminster dog show
Posted February 5, 2014
Updated February 6, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh pup will rally the ring this weekend at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City for the first time. But Heavenly, a 5-year-old Chinese crested, has nothing to fear - showmanship is in her blood.
Heavenly, one of the latest of Susan Cicone’s brood to fetch ribbons at showing events, will compete in the Westminster show on Saturday after making her showing debut in July. Heavenly’s aunt, Tally, made the trip to Westminster two years ago.
The Westminster show is freshening its lineup this year, adding three new breeds to the ring and unveiling its first-ever agility competition, where the dogs participate in obstacle courses.
Cicone, both owner and handler, stays with her pups every step of the way.
“My dogs are pets, and we don’t believe in handing them off to somebody,” Cicone said.
At Westminster, dogs are judged on the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, including the dog’s ideal color, size and shape. But Heavenly brings more to the ring than a cute face.
“Heavenly has a lot of attitude,” Cicone said. “She’s been called the feisty one more than one time. She will usually start out walking with me, but within seconds, she’s ahead of me like, ‘Let’s go.’”
Cicone retired from IBM in 2010 after more than 40 years. Now, she devotes her life to her six dogs and helps other owners train theirs.
She said she’s proud of her dogs, their rows of ribbons marking a rarity among their breed. It’s unusual for Chinese crested dogs to succeed in such a variety of performance events, she said.
Cicone said both she and Heavenly will bring winning attitudes to the show.
“It's such an overwhelming and rewarding experience to go through the journey together,” she said.