May the best dog win Eagle County show |

May the best dog win Eagle County show

Sarah Mausolf
Eagle, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyCarol Warner will be entering her award-winning flat-coated retriever Milo in the Roaring Fork Kennel Club dog show that will be held this weekend in Eagle.

EAGLE, Colorado –This weekend, Milo will receive a bath and blow dry in a grooming area at the Eagle County Fairgrounds. A coat of black nail polish will make his paws gleam; a spritz of finishing spray will add shine to his black coat.

The reason for all of this primping?

Milo, a flat-coated retriever who lives in Gypsum, will compete in a “beauty contest for dogs.” About 800 dogs will compete this weekend in the Roaring Fork Kennel Club Dog Show in Eagle. Held in Eagle since 1997, the event is expected to draw hundreds of people.

When Carol Warner opens the door to her Gypsum home, her dog Milo can barely contain his excitement.

He jumps up, licking her face. He strains to greet the guest at the door as Warner holds him by the collar.

Warner sometimes refers to Milo as her wild boy, but she knows that her dog – whose full name is Destiny Good Old Glory – is a born show animal.

As graceful in the ring as he is exuberant at home, Milo has earned 13 ribbons at dog shows across the state since Warner began showing him in November 2008.

Warner fell in love with flat-coated retrievers a decade ago.

Her family adopted one of the dogs from the Eagle County animal shelter. His name was Charlie, and he quickly grew on Warner, her husband and their two children.

“He was their mascot for sports teams. He would be at the store with me,” said Warner, who owns Kids Cottage in Edwards. “He would go Jeeping. He rode on the jet skis with us.”

After seven loving years with Charlie, the family lost him to cancer in 2006.

“When we lost him, it was a shock,” Warner recalled. “We didn’t know it was cancer until the very end. I was devastated. We all were.”

Warner joined an online grief support group for flat coat owners. Members of the online group told her about an older pup a flat-coat breeder in Indiana “might be willing to let me have,” she said.

Thing is, breeders want to keep the breed rare – and they won’t just give the dogs to anyone, Warner said.

That’s why the breeder wouldn’t return Warner’s calls at first, and only told her about Milo after she e-mailed an essay about how much she loved and missed Charlie.

Finally, the breeder told Warner about one of her dogs: Milo. Milo’s father had won best of breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York three years in a row.

“Milo was the pick of the litter,” Warner said. “They expected huge things of him in the show world.”

Although the breeder had sold Milo to a famous dog handler in the Midwest, the dog handler fell down a flight of stairs and broke his leg in three places, forcing him to give the pup back to the breeder because he couldn’t train the dog.

The breeder was trying hard to find a show home for Milo, Warner recalled.

“I said, I’m not opposed to showing him but I’ve got to tell you: I know nothing about dog shows. I’ve ever even been to a dog show,” Warner said. “She said, ‘It’s easy. He knows what to do.’ I promised her I’d try.”

After owning Milo for several months, Warner finally worked up the nerve to enter him in a Pueblo dog show in November 2008. It was a disaster, she said. Instead of strutting around the ring like the other dogs, Milo kept sitting down.

“A breeder at the dog show came over to me and said ‘He’s a beautiful dog,'” Warner recalled. “She said ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I probably would have given him a blue ribbon if I was a judge just because he’s so pretty, but boy did he do everything wrong!'”

Warner and Milo spent the rest of the day watching the other dogs in the ring, and something clicked for Milo.

“We went into the ring the next day and he ended up winning best of breed,” Warner said. “So that got me hooked.”

Warner plans to enter Milo in the confirmation category of the Eagle dog show, which she describes as a “beauty contest for dogs.”

Milo will pose, run around the ring and follow the judge’s directions.

He’ll be up against the sporting dogs like Labs, pointers and other types of retrievers.

To get Milo ready for the show, Warner has been taking him for runs to strengthen his shoulders and chest. Milo sticks to a strict diet of Purina Pro Plan, with a little white rice and cottage cheese to make his coat shine.

As far as Milo’s chances of winning the show, Warner said he has a good chance of winning ‘best of breed’ because he’s the only flat-coated retriever in the show.

“In the sporting ring, I don’t know,” Warner said. “Flat coats are not as showy as some of the other dogs, so chances are slim he’ll be pulled out as one of the top four in the sporting group but it’s fun to go in and it’s good practice.”

Competing in shows is a bonding experience, Warner said.

“It’s almost made Milo more part of the family because we’re all so proud of him,” she said. “For me, I love doing things with him. When we go to dog shows, it’s pretty much one on one.”

Milo won’t be the only local dog in the show. Although dogs will be coming to Eagle from across the nation, several animals hail from Eagle and Gypsum.

Gypsum resident Kieffer Kaufman, 12, plans to enter his three-year-old Japanese chin. Named Einstein, the tiny dog has poofy white fur with black spots.

Kieffer said he has been showing his dog for the past three years and has probably entered him in about 30 shows. The boy learned about showing dogs through the local 4-H club. He looks forward to entering his pooch in the upcoming Eagle County Fair.

“What I like is meeting new people, seeing how other people show dogs,” he said.

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