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Local dog and her people headed to Westminster

Scott N. Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyGemmie, a wirehaired pointing griffon, is on his way to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
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SWEETWATER – Bob Jarnot’s boyhood dream was a little different than most, but he gets to live it next month.Growing up, Jarnot dreamed of one day showing a dog at the Westminster Kennel Club’s annual dog show in New York. Through the years, he followed a career in education – including a 20-year stint at Battle Mountain High School – raised a family with his wife, Cathy, and settled into retirement up Sweetwater road in the western end of the county. Through it all, he still dreamed of showing a dog at Westminster.Next month, he’ll get that chance.The Jarnots will take Gemmie, a 6-year-old wirehaired pointing griffon, to Westminster, following a stop at the Eukanuba Classic show in Florida. The six-week adventure is a dog-lover’s dream trip, although Cathy said she hopes the weather’s downright hot in Florida, which it definitely is not in Sweetwater.Not an Irish setterWhile Bob Jarnot is living his dream, he won’t actually show Gemmie. He might be able to do it in February, but thanks to three back surgeries in the past year, Cathy’s been doing all the work in the show ring lately.”Bob told me, ‘You got her there, you show her,'” Cathy said.But how does a nice working class couple from Eagle County end up taking a dog to the Big Apple? Mostly it has to do with the dog, both for her abilities in shows and her status as of one of just a few wirehaired pointing griffons in ColoradoGemmie’s breed isn’t ultra-rare, but it isn’t well-known, either. In fact, the Jarnots had to travel to Philadelphia to pick up their new pup six years ago.”I’d always had Irish setters,” Bob said. “But living where we do, it’s too hard to maintain their coats. There are too many burrs up there, and it’s awful to get them out.”

So off to the Internet Jarnot went to research breeds. After a lot of looking, he and Cathy decided to try a dog like Gemmie. They’ve been thrilled. Gemmie’s friendly, and has taken quickly to training for both shows and work as a hunting dog for both “upland” or dry land, and water birds.Scruffy and dominantHaving the only dog like Gemmie in the state for a while, the Jarnots quickly became involved in the national club for the breed. In fact, Cathy is now the secretary for the 350-member national club. Through those club connections, the Jarnots were able to choose just the right male when it came time to breed Gemmie a few years ago. That, too, took a trip, this time to Wisconsin.A couple of Gemmie’s pups have become her competitors on the state show circuit. Other wirehaired pointing griffons have dribbled into the state, too. But in the show ring, the scruffy-looking dog from Sweetwater has dominated, which is how she earned her invitation to the Westminster show.While Gemmie reflects the “wirehaired” in her name, and closely resembles German wirehaired pointers, that’s how the breed is supposed to look. In fact, that’s the hardest part of having a dog as different as Gemmie.”People don’t know how to groom her,” Bob said. “You don’t really groom them, just trim a little around the toes.”On this trip, though, the participants and audiences will know how dogs like Gemmie are supposed to look.”This is so exciting,” Bob said. “Not just to go, but to have her invited, that’s really special.”

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.==============Going to the dogsWhat: Westminster Kennel Club 129th Annual Dog ShowWhere: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.When: Feb. 14, 15



How many: Up to 2,500 dogs, as well as owners and handlersWho gets in: “Best in breed” winners from around the countyOn TV: Live on the USA Network, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. both nights======================Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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