Meet Zoom. He’s a Finnish spitz with a fox-like look, a persistent bark and a lively personality.
Meet Hudson. He’s a field spaniel with floppy ears, keen hunting skills and a gentle nature.
Meet Wendy Whiteley, Zoom’s owner, who at 49 has been showing dogs competitively for three years.
Meet Shahntae Martinez, co-owner of Hudson. At 17, she has nearly a dozen years of experience working with dogs.
Martinez and Whitely, both of Everett, and their purebred pets are heading to New York City. Next week, they’ll compete in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is marking its 141st year. Both will show their dogs Monday in New York.
If their beautiful dogs advance to the finals, they’ll compete at Madison Square Garden. Final events wrap up Tuesday. Those finals, including Best In Show, will be televised Monday and Tuesday evenings on Fox Sports (FS1).
Martinez, a student at Everett’s Sequoia High School, began participating in canine care and events 11 years ago through 4-H. She travels extensively with Hudson, and just Monday returned from a dog show in California. The teen co-owns Hudson with Janelle Chamberlin, an Everett Community College student from Bothell.
Although busy packing, Whiteley, Martinez and their prize-winning pooches got together Wednesday at Whiteley’s Lowell neighborhood home. A blue dress and jacket, suitably formal for the show ring, were hanging in Whiteley’s living room, ready for her suitcase.
Hudson and Zoom get along famously. The dogs, who couldn’t be more different, minded their manners even with the excitement of visitors.
Zoom is high-energy and ever-watchful. A “sight hound,” the Finnish spitz is the national dog of Finland. Once near extinction, the breed is known for its high-pitched bark — 100 barks per minute — useful to corner or tree birds or animals. The breed competes in the United States in the Hound Group, Whiteley said, but as a hunting dog in Canada and Europe.
Hudson, the field spaniel, will compete at Westminster in the Sporting Group. Developed in 19th-century England, the breed is known for loyalty, noble beauty and hunting skills, especially flushing out ducks. On Wednesday, Hudson was still and stoic as Zoom barked out greetings.
Martinez said competition and all that goes with it “creates a bond between you and your dog that’s better than just cuddling on the couch.” For years, she competed in 4-H dog events at the Evergreen State Fair.
She and Hudson qualified for Westminster with fine results at December’s AKC National Championship Dog Show, presented by Royal Canin, in Florida. There, she ranked No. 1 in an Owner-Handler category, No. 2 for the field spaniel breed, and No. 6 in Junior Showmanship.
She grew up with pets, and for years competed with Australian terriers. Her older sister, Shannon, also was involved in showing dogs. Their mother, Sue Martinez, said 4-H helped the girls learn responsibility.
Whiteley has five dogs in her household. Along with Zoom, the family has a female Finnish spitz, two shiba inu dogs, and a Pomeranian belonging to Whiteley’s 14-year-old son, Oliver. Her husband, Dr. Tim Whiteley, is a physician with Group Health.
“This will be our first time at Westminster as a competitor,” Whiteley said. “I’m pretty new to it, but I’m used to being out there with the professionals.”
She was invited to the Westminster show in 2016, Zoom’s first full year of competition, but attended as a spectator. “Zoom just turned 3 years old on Christmas Eve. He’s quite young for the breed to be at this competitive level,” she said.
Zoom and his master also did well at the AKC National Championship show in December. They took honors as the No. 1 Owner-Handled Finnish spitz team, No. 2 Best of Breed/Variety Dogs, and No. 6 All-Breed.
Whiteley credits Zoom’s breeder, Michelle Leathers of Dv9k9 Finnish Spitz Pups in Klamath Falls, Oregon, for giving her the opportunity to show a top dog. “I feel blessed every day,” Whiteley said. “She is a rare breeder who believes in putting her best dogs out there with people who are showing, rather than showing them all herself.”
Both owners said their dogs live as family pets at home, but are accustomed to travel. “The airlines are excellent at handling dogs,” Whiteley said. And certain hotels, Hilton among them, are dog-friendly.
Whiteley can laugh about what some might see as bad-dog behavior. Dogs of Zoom’s breed “are like the class clown of the spitz family,” she said. Zoom figured out how to open a door hiding kitchen garbage, even with a child-proof lock.
“And I’ve caught him with a can of pop,” said Whiteley, describing how Zoom punctures a can to get the sweet liquid. “He’s a great problem-solver.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.