Westminster Dog Show 2011: Hickory co-owners chat live

Feb 18, 2011

Co-owners Dr. Robert and Cecilia Dove will be online Friday Feb. 18, at noon ET, to chat about Westminster Kennel Club winner Hickory, a Scottish deerhound.

Dr. Dove graduated from Texas A&M University in 1976.  He has been in small animal practice for 35 years.  His wife Cecilia and he have been in Deerhounds since 1979.

How does one become involved in dog shows? What drove you into this interest?

There are dog shows all over the country every weekend.  You can go to the AKC website or to www.infodog.com to see the schedule and enter your dog.  Entries close 3 weeks before the shows.


My wife had been doing this for several years before we met and had Scottish Deerhounds and Borzoi.  She already has some champions, including a National Specialty winner named Ch. Fairfort's Castle Gremlin and we called her Gremmy.

Unless they also wanted to own rabbits or squirrels, why would anyone ever want any dog other than a sight hound? :) They're so quiet, affectionate, athletic, and fun. Other than the long hair, what other differencea are there between a deerhound and a greyhound?

They are meant for two different jobs.  The Deerhounds work in pairs to bring a stag to bay.  The Greyhound was bred to chase small game like rabbits.

I have to imagine those of us who own dogs that are not pure-breds and not show dogs live very different lives than Hickory. Still there have to be some things you do with Hickory that apply to our dogs. Can you share some of those lessons?

Sound husbandry, proper feeding and good grooming are needs for all dogs.  Plus she is a companion first and a show dog second!!

Does Hickory have any siblings?

There were six in her litter.  Her brother, Boatman, lives with her on the farm.  The others are with friends and some are also show dogs.

Does Hickory have a favorite treat?

She really likes the dog biscuits from Wegmans!!  LOL

Congrats on your win. As I watched each of the best in groups do their trot into the ring, I thought "I want her (Hickory) to win." I thought she looked so light on her feet. I recall the first time I saw the Scottish Deerhound was at the Alexandria Christmas Walk. Will Hickory be visiting the White House before the stork pays a visit?

We would love to visit the White House but it hasn't been put on the schedule yet!!  And yes we do attend the Scottish Walk every year!!  The Deerhounds love it!!

We have been owned by PBGVs for nearly 15 years, so we are confirmed hound people. When the PBGV, as usual, didn't win the Hound group (despite being a real cutie), we transferred our allegiance to Hickory and were so happy when she won. Hounds are such sweet, gentle dogs and Hickory looks to be just that. She moved around the ring with such a quiet confidence. My question is: Given that Hounds so rarely win Westminster, did you think it was a good omen that the BIS judge was such a Hound lover? And who did you think was your biggest competition, both in the group and in BIS?

We didn't know this judge, just that he was foreign.  So it was such a treat to hear his comments afterwards!  The PBGV, Beagle and Irish Wolfhound were all big competition.  The quality of the group was outstanding.  When it comes to BIS in Westminster they are all worthy.

Does Hickory have any particular quirks? An area she likes to be scratched or certain foods she likes to eat? She seems sweet - is that her general temperament?

She is very sweet and exhibits the typical Deerhound temperment.  She loves to have her ears scratched.  She eats a major brand dog food that is supplemented with chicken and probiotics.

I love her name! How did you choose it?

My wife chooses theme names for her litters and this one was Bluegrass Song Titles.  Hickory Wind is a song.

What's next for Hickory?

Retiring on the sofa.  She does have some more media appearances that are being scheduled.  But she is retiring from showing.

First off, Congratulations to you & to Hickory! I was very pleased to hear David Frei repeatedly mention that if someone wants to get a purebred dog, they should research the breed to make sure it's a good fit for them. Once they settle on a breed, they should get a dog from either a breed rescue or a responsible breeder. However, he never said anything about what makes someone a responsible breeder & I think it's a term that a lot of people don't really understand. Can you elaborate please? Thanks.

An ethical breeder will be prepared to find suitable homes for their puppies and if they cannot, they will be prepared to keep the dogs in their homes for their lifetime.  Ethical breeders will also health test their breeding stock and the puppies for any common genetic problems that their breed may have.  An ethical breeder will also have the wherewithal to provide the proper housing, food and medical care.

Just wanted to say Howdy to a fellow Ag (my grandfather was also a Vet from A&M, c/o 1932). How do you feel about having a purebred dog as opposed to a mutt from a shelter? And the desire for a "purebred" leading to inhumane practices by unethical breeders?

The advantage of having a purebred dog is to know the temperment , size and look of what you will be getting.  But the best dog in the world is the one that you love and they love you.  I feel that if someone desires a purebred dog it is also incumbent on that person to be certain that they are buying from an ethical breeder rather than a puppy mill.  It's important to be an ethical buyer as well.

How excited were you after her win?

Indescribable feelings, like winning the Triple Crown or the World Series.

Is Hickory the only dog you show? Or do you have others that aren't close to retirement?

We do have some more dogs at home that are younger.  In fact a cousin of Hickory's is being shown now.  She won a Best in Show before she had finished her Championship.

now that a Deerhound has wom Westminster, are you worried that uneducated breeders and owners will try to capitalize on the breed's popularity and cause issues for the health of the breed in general?

The Scottish Deerhound Club of American has already had many inquiries.  Our breeders are very protective of where the puppies are placed and will interview prospective buyers on all aspects of ownership.  Raising a Deerhound puppy is not a simple thing.  They require a lot of daily, free range exercise. Plus they grow very quickly.  It takes dedication to produce a physically sound dog.

Do you work with Hickory's trainer at all?

I assume you mean Angie Lloyd, the professional handler that was in the ring with Hickory.  Yes, I first met her as a client of mine and I was immediately impressed with her knowledge and compassion for the dogs in her care.  At that point in time, I thought that if we ever had a dog that we planned to show at this level, Angie would be the perfect handler.  She didn't let us down.

Just recently we got a puppy from an outstanding breeder. And, in fact, the father of the puppy won best in breed at Westminster. In my lifetime I have had lots of dogs but never a show dog. Please be honest with me regarding this question. How much of winning has to do with who you are in the dog show world. I mean, nobody knows us when we show him. It seems very insular to me and an outsider like us I think will have diminshed chances of success even if the dog turns out superior.

Okay, let's look at this way.  If you own a race horse, you hire a jockey, a groom, and a trainer to put this horse on the track for you. Angie is our jockey. To compete at this level you do need professionals.  However, there are many smaller, local shows that attract the owner/handler and it's a lot of fun.  I would encourage you to give it a try and feel comfortable that there are others in the ring just like you.  In fact my wife showed Hickory to her Championship and her first Group 1 win.

It sounds like you and your wife are great owners to Hickory. Did you ever dream that you would have a dog that would win Westminster?

Thank you for the compliment on being good owners.   At a show like Westminster where there are over 2500 Champions including the top 5 in every breed getting a special invitation you don't ever think of winning Best in Show.  But boy is it special when you do!!!!

In the breed competition, how many deerhounds did Hickory have to beat? That must have been a fun event to watch given how light and graceful deerhounds look when moving around the ring.

There were 7 entered, 3 showed up.

I was fortunate to have a friend take me back stage at Westminster. After seeing the hundreds of dogs crammed together, it seemed to me the miracle is really behind the scenes, not on the show floor. Crates everywhere, dogs shoved together, photographers, etc. How do you keep your dog calm and composed and not exhausted while it waits for its moment on the floor? The bright lights must seem like a relief after waiting backstage!

This one of the tough parts of competing at Westminster.  We definitely depend on her handler to protect her and keep her cool, calm and collected.

Thanks everyone for all the questions.   This has been lots of fun.

In This Chat
Dr. Robert Dove
Dr. Robert Dove is co-owner, along with wife Cecilia, of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show winner Hickory.
Cecilia Dove
Cecilia Dove is co-owner, along with husband Robert, of Westminster Kennel Club dog show winner Hickory.
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