An Ocean City dog owner has reached the pinnacle of the show dog world – not once, but twice.
Sandy Nordstrom’s Irish Setter “Adrian” and her Colored Bull Terrier “Bond” both took top honors for their respective breeds in the recent Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The nationally-televised event brings more than 3,000 canines from all over the country and the world to compete for the ultimate prize, the coveted “Best in Show” honors. To the owners and handlers who “campaign” their dogs on the circuit, just making it to the Garden is a victory in its own right. To win Best of Breed and advance to the evening portion where the Best in Show is determine.
“It’s almost indescribable, the excitement and the thrills, just to be a part of it,” Nordstrom says. “It’s the ultimate thrill as a dog owner.” She said her husband Bob Ashenbrenner has been a supportive presence throughout.
Both Adrian and Bond are multiple-time Best of Show winners, taking a total of five and two previous top honors,” she said. But all those fancy pedigrees, blue ribbons and medallions have not gone to their heads.
“Adrian is the kind of dog you’d like to have a beer with, if you could,” Sandy said with a laugh, and Bond is a little bit of a character. Some people are under the impression it is just a beauty contest. But the judges aren’t looking at which dog is prettier. There is a written standard for each breed and that is what they are really looking for.”
Adrian bested the other Setters with his strong bone structure, ability to move well, muscular development and angles of his bones, among other aspects. He also has a great disposition and responds well to his handler, Adam Bernardin, she said. Bond, and Nordstrom’s other show dogs are handled by Katie Shepard. The dogs are co-owned by Bruce and Mary Soote of Magnolia, Texas.
Adrian’s formal registered name is GCH Vermillion’s Sea Breeze; Bond’s is GCH Notorious Never Say Never.
“Bond” is so named because his tan coloring includes a white saddle with tan markings that resemble the two zeroes and a reversed numeral 7 as in James Bond’s famous 007. But Nordstrom says that does not mean the dogs have a “license to kill” the competition.
“You might think your dog is great, but there are so many wonderful dogs out there,” she says. “You can’t ever be overconfident.”
In addition to her show dogs, Nordstrom has two other dogs at home, a pair of Golden Retrievers, Benny and Gordie.
“All of these dogs in the show are somebody’s pet,” she said. “All of these dogs are loved and have loving homes.”
So what’s next for Adrian and Bond? Locally there will be a show at the Wildwood Convention Center in March, and they will be there and looking to add to their winning ways. But in the meantime, they are no different than the dog next door.