Magrath pup wins big at Westminster Kennel Club dog show – Lethbridge
Oshie, a Miniature American Shepherd (MAS) from Magrath, Alberta, scored a big win at the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last month.
The pup, officially known as Alta Oceans Symphony of the Seas, won Best Opposite Sex in the Best Breeds category at the prestigious New York competition.
Valerie Nilsson, owner and breeder at Alta Miniature American Shepherds, said it takes a lot of hard work and years of breeding to perfect a pedigree and land a title at Westminster.
“You want to compete against good dogs and if you can beat good dogs, that means something,” Nilsson said.
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This is Nilsson’s first Westminster Championship title and four other dogs have qualified in the past.
“It was very exciting and rewarding,” said Nilsson, who has been a breeder of the MAS Champion for over a decade.
“We’ve had this breed in our family since I was a kid, but they weren’t the beautiful animals I’m keeping right now.”
She began raising toy Australian Shepherds, but soon found a love for the slightly larger Miniature Australian Shepherds. The problem was that the breed was not registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and could not compete or have its class in shows.
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From 2011 to 2015, she participated in their AKC recording. It took a name change for the Miniature American Shepherds for the certification to pass.
The Canadian Kennel Club has not recognized the breed, but she hopes recognition will come soon so they can compete at home.
Her dogs have won over 48 titles since she started the competition circuit in 2011 and can be seen winning prizes in South America, the UK, Europe, Russia and the USA.
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“It tells me that my breeding program is going in the right direction,” Nilsson said. “If they didn’t win, I guess I would have to rearrange the whole program.”
“I’m very proud of my dogs.”
Nilsson plans to retire in five years and hopes to find someone equally passionate to take over his operation.
“You have to understand your bloodlines and how to breed, and I guess that’s where I have to build some trust that someone is going to take it and go with it,” Nilsson said.
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