Nelson County, Virginia
By Aaron Lee
Nelson County Life
A Massies Mill dog has collared a “Best of Breed” prize at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
On Tuesday, honors were awarded to a 137-pound Komondor – bred by Mike and Sherry Harman – whose bleached janitor-mop appearance is probably more familiar to the general public on TV than it is on a dog run.
At Westminster the “Best of Breed” judging includes categories for sporting, non-sporting, toy, hound, herding, terrier and working. The Komondor falls into the “working” bracket and the Harman’s dog was one of four of its breed – two males and two females – that were judged. All told, approximately 150 breeds were judged between Monday and Tuesday. While some dog shows carry a purse, no prize money is tied to winning at Westminster. This year’s “Best in Show” – the contest’s top honors – went to a four-year-old Scottish Terrier.
Komondors, native to Hungary, are sentinels who watch over livestock and are rare in the United States, Sherry Harman said during a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. Roughly a hundred Komondors are born in the United States each year, Harman said. Compared with an estimated 2,000 Golden Retrievers born each month, she said. “It’s a very small community,” she said of Komondor owners. Known as ultra-protective of their flock, Harman described a Komondor’s attentiveness and ferocity in the face of a potential threat by saying, “I have not locked my door in 20 years.”
Harman and her husband Mike (A member of the Nelson County Planning Commission) have raised Komondors for 23 years and this year was the second time they’ve shown at Westminster. During the previous showing the couple’s dog received an “Award of Merit,” she said. The five-year-old dog the couple took this year is officially known as “Champion Meadow View Officer N A Gentleman,” but is known to the Harman’s as “Major.””It’s really an incredible dog,” said Harman, who spent the most of the last month on the road traveling to different dog shows. Without much pause after Westminster the Harmans drove to South Carolina this week to compete in three more dog shows.
The couple co-owns “Gentleman” with Janet Cupolo, according to Westminster’s Web site.
Harman, now retired, showed her first dog in 1991 and has since traveled the circuit country-wide in an RV.
“Heck, if we weren’t doing this, what would we be doing,” she asked.