Lisl Dutterer had entered her champion Samoyeds Halo and Easter in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with hopes that one of them could win best of breed and compete on live television for the working-class trophy against Siberian huskies, boxers, Great Danes and mastiffs.
But neither Halo nor Easter made it past the breed round.
Halo and Easter competed against 24 Samoyeds, fluffy white dogs that were originally bred as snow dogs in Siberia. They resemble a cross between a wolf and a polar bear.
At the Westminster competition that concludes tonight, officials expected 2,597 dogs from 49 states and 179 eligible breeds. Maryland had 79 entries.
For Halo, 4, it was the third time experiencing Westminster, while it was the debut there for Easter, a dog that's not yet 3. Both pets have become regulars at regional shows where they earned their champion status.
Unlike a lot of owners competing at Westminster, Dutterer, an adult education specialist, didn't hire a professional handler. She showed Halo while her boyfriend, Chris Moffett, took Easter into the ring. The two also did their own grooming — a sight that attracted a lot of attention backstage Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
"It's absolutely crazy the number of people that are taking pictures," Dutterer said shortly before the Samoyed judging. "I'm standing outside the benching area and there is a line six people deep taking pictures. It's crazy. It's hard to get them groomed."
Among those shooting Halo and Easter was a news service photographer, who captured six shots of Dutterer's white-furred, majestic dogs that were made available to news organizations worldwide.
While Dutterer's dogs didn't bring home any prizes Tuesday, Rainsong N Burmack's Groovy Kind of Love of Ellicott City was awarded best of breed for Manchester terriers (standard). The dog's owners are James G. Burrows Jr., Patrick Mackesey, D. Green and A. Gerhold.