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baltimoresun.com

Fox family dog gets national attention on Thanksgiving Day

By Lindsey McPherson, lmcpherson@patuxent.com

3:54 PM EST, November 28, 2011

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When Fulton Republican Greg Fox was campaigning to be re-elected to his District 5 County Council seat last year, he found more than politics to talk about at one person's home.

While knocking door-to-door, Fox came across a Tibetan Terrier and became intrigued by the breed.

"We talked briefly about the dog," Fox said of his interaction with the constituent. "I didn't think much of it for a while until a family decision was made for me that we were getting a dog."

Two months later, Fox and his family purchased a Tibetan Terrier named Big from breeder Lori Toth, in Virginia. Big, like all the other puppies in his litter, was named after a character from the television show "Sex in the City."

Fox almost had Big neutered and his coat shaved — both things would have disqualified Big as a show dog — before Toth and another breeder, Phil Schafmayer, convinced him to let Big compete in shows.

On Thanksgiving Day, the year-and-a-half-old Big became a star in the dog world as he appeared in "The National Dog Show" that aired on NBC immediately after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The event, which was taped on Nov. 19, was hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.

"That's a good looking dog," one of the show's commentators said during Big's two-minute appearance.

To appear on TV, Big, who at 30 pounds is on the larger side of his breed, beat out all the other Tibetan Terriers in the competition to compete against other breed winners in the Non-Sporting Group.

There are seven groups, including the Non-Sporting Group, which contains all the breeds that do not fit into one of the other groups. The Tibetan Terrier is not in the Terrier Group because it "is not a true terrier, only terrier in size," according to the American Kennel Club website.

Big did not place within his group, and therefore was ineligible to win Best in Show.

But Big has accomplished a lot as a show dog since he began competing in July. In 15 shows, he's won a championship and a grand championship, which are based on points accumulated from various wins.

Fox said Schafmayer, the person who handles Big at the competitions, might want to show Big at the Westminster Dog Show in February at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Only champions are eligible to compete at Westminster.

Though Westminster is the most prestigious dog show, Fox said his family, which pays the all the costs to show the dog, still is discussing whether or not they want Big to continue to compete.

"Part of it is how much do we want our dog away," he said. "It was fun and stuff, but we didn't buy him to have a show dog or anything like that. We bought him as a pet."

Whether or not Big continues to compete, his Thanksgiving Day television appearance is one Fox and his family will remember.

"We were watching the show and it was like holy smokes," Fox said about the amount of air time Big was given. "It ended up making for a fun Thanksgiving, a unique experience."