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Bath resident brings home Westminster win

3/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Bath resident Halle Luxmore and her dog, Emmie, show off the “Best of Opposite Sex” ribbon they won at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
Photo courtesy of Halle Luxmore
BATH — Some of Bath resident Halle Luxmore’s friends think her hobby is wacky, she said.

On top of that, industry experts said her goal was overzealous, she added.

But none of that dampened her determination.

“I did it,” she said.

She and her 2-year-old Pekingese dog, Emmie, not only earned an invitation to the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City last month, but they brought home a medal. The pair, whose journey began a little over a year earlier, won Best of Opposite Sex in the breed.

Sometime last year, friend Duane Doll, also publisher of a magazine devoted to Pekingese dogs, asked her about her goal, Luxmore said.

She told him she’d like to be invited to compete at two premier shows, the American Kennel Club’s Royal Canin National Championship Dog Show in Orlando, Florida, in December 2016, and Westminster.

“He laughed when I told him the timeframe was one year,” she said.

Another industry professional, the president of the Pekingese Club of America, had a similar reaction.

“He said my goal and timeframe were not likely,” she said.

Yet, Luxmore was undeterred. 

“It’s not like I was some newcomer to dogs,” she explained.

Luxmore, 47, started showing dogs in 2010, first competing with her Japanese Chins, a breed sometimes known as Japanese spaniel. Starting out, she bought a book on how to show a dog and studied it.

“I just thought my dog was so pretty it could go into the ring,” she said.

The first show was a disaster, she admitted. But her Chins went on to become champions, she said.

“I started with [Japanese Chins], but I fell in love with the Pekingese breed because they are so stubborn. They don’t listen, they don’t follow commands — they make you work for everything,” she said. “Pekes are more my personality.”

The pack consists of a handful of older Japanese Chins and 10 Pekes, five of whom are currently show dogs.

She began acquiring the Pekes in 2015, from breeders in Russia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

“I love a diverse bloodline,” she said.

Award-winning Emmie, whose full name is GCHB Follow Me Just Call Me Empress, hails from Paris.

“They’re like potato chips — you can’t have just one,” she said of her Pekingese dogs. “And I finished five champions in one year, so I think I picked the right breed. Even though Pekes are terribly ornery, when you get them into the dog show ring, they know exactly what you want them to do. A Peke knows how to be pretty. When anybody claps, their ego is soaring, and they know people are clapping for them.”

To prepare for shows, Luxmore takes her dogs to a busy pet store nearby, which helps desensitize them to the noisy, bright, hectic environment of dog shows, and she lets people touch them. She also spends about five and a half hours grooming each dog before a show, she said.

“Their hair is so thick and dense, it’s like parting the sea and brushing, and parting and brushing,” and so on, she said.

Luxmore stressed that she’s not a professional — showing dogs is a hobby for her — and she doesn’t make any money off of it. The rewards come in the form of pride, she said.

“People who are not in the dog show world think I’m totally wacky, but when they come to a show they love it,” added Luxmore.

It really is something to see such a host of canines being recognized for their thoughtful breeding, she added.

“We are all hoping to portray what we hope is the iconic image of the breed,” she said.

Emmie began her show dog career in December 2015, entering the Crown Classic Dog Show in Cleveland.

“She won back to back for four days straight,” Luxmore said.

Driving to shows in Ohio and more than a handful of other states nearly every weekend for the past year, she kept winning.

“Emmie was just too pretty for words. She knew from the get-go people were looking at her,” Luxmore said.

Emmie’s winning streak led to the coveted invitation to the Royal Canin show in Florida. She was named Best of Opposite Sex there, and when they got back to their home in Bath, an invitation to Westminster was waiting.

“I don’t know what it is that inspired me, but to make it to that point, I am grateful,” Luxmore said of the trip to Westminster.

Now Emmie has earned a break, and she’s done competing, at least for now, Luxmore said. She wants Emmie to have a litter when she’s ready, she added.

Meanwhile, her owner is already reaching toward her next goal. Now that she’s won at Westminster with a dog she purchased, Luxmore wants to see if she can win at the same show with a dog she bred herself, she said.

One of her other dogs, CH Robinwood Hi Ho Silver Ranger, a 1-year-old Pekingese, is featured on the cover of The Orient Express magazine this month, she said, and she believes he’s ready to run the victory trail.

“He knows he’s pretty and he acts like it. He’s a diva. He’s the Ralph Lauren runway model,” she said.

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