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Langley Shiba Inu takes 'best of breed' at Westminster Dog Show

Mr. Jones, seen here during a Whidbey photo shoot, has also found his place in the sun at the Westminster Dog Show in New York. - Russell Sparkman photo
Mr. Jones, seen here during a Whidbey photo shoot, has also found his place in the sun at the Westminster Dog Show in New York.
— image credit: Russell Sparkman photo

Déjà vu, Mr. Jones.

Fresh from a "best of breed" victory at a prestigious dog show in California, the 22-pound Langley champion Shiba Inus, a Japanese hunting breed, collected another coup at the world-famous Westminster Dog Show in New York City this week.

"He did wonderfully," said his owner-handler Sandi Smith.

"It was so intense, mobs of people everywhere," Smith said. "He had to really focus."

Mr. Jones, whose pedigree name is CH. Dragonhouse Mr. Jones, took "best of breed" Monday at the New York show, defeating about

20 other Shibas from throughout the nation.

Monday night, he competed against 18 other dogs in the Non-Sporting Group category for a chance at the best-in-show top prize.

As almost always seems to happen, Mr. Jones was pitted against his nemeses in the group.

"There are two poodles," Smith said with a sigh. "He's never beaten the poodles."

Smith said she's one of the few owner-handlers to reach this level of competition. Most of the entries are backed by big money and are shown by professionals, she said.

"But we're going to give it all we've got," Smith said Monday. "I feel good. I feel confident."

Alas, it wasn't enough.

Smith couldn't be reached for comment before the Record's press deadline Tuesday, but the Westminster Web site listed a French bulldog as group winner, a Chinese Shar-Pei in second place, another bulldog in third and — sigh — a poodle in fourth place.

The show was being televised by the USA Network, and the group winners were to go for the top prize on Tuesday night.

Last month, after winning a series of dog-show awards in Europe,

Mr. Jones copped best-of breed at the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, the largest-prize-money dog show in the world.

He lost in the group competition, however — to a poodle — but he still won $400.

Later this year, Smith and Jones will compete at Crufts in London, known as the world's greatest dog show. It couldn't be determined how many poodles were entered.

Mr. Jones, who's almost 3 years old, is about 30 inches long and 15 inches tall. He's wriggly, and he "loves people," Smith said.

Smith has been raising and breeding Shibas for 17 years, and Japanese Akitas before that.

Whatever happens, she remains upbeat.

"He's become one of the top dogs in the nation," Smith said Monday of Mr. Jones. "We feel very fortunate."

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