It's the 'Look' and Attitude That Make Mussers' Sadie Top Dog
A little black Scottish terrier named Sadie is stealing attention across the country. Her trainer thinks she is the perfect Scotty, and her owners are proud that she did everything right at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February, where she was named the top dog in the terrier group. Only four years old, she has amassed more competition points than any other dog in the country.
Sadie's registered named is Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot, and she is owned by Amelia and Dan Musser of Mackinac Island. She was whelped at the Mussers' Roundtown kennel in Laingsburg and has been impressing judges here and abroad ever since.
At the 133rd Westminster show last February, Judge Peter Green pronounced her the top terrier, after putting her through the final tests, seeking eye contact, observing her personality, and looking for standout features and behavior.
"She looked beautiful," recalls Mrs. Musser. "She didn't put a foot wrong."
But the suspense waiting for Mr. Green's pronouncement had been intense.
"We thought we were a serious contender this year," said Mrs. Musser. "We went into it with Sadie winning a lot of Best of Shows and a lot of people saying wonderful things about her and liking her."
Sadie won Best in Breed at Westminster, which qualified her to compete for, and win, the silver cup in the whole terrier group.
In the final round of judging at Westminster, where the winners in each of the seven groups compete, Sadie lost to a Sussex Spaniel named Stump.
Kay Hoppenrath of Mackinac Island, a friend of the Mussers who watched the Westminster show on television, was sorry Sadie did not win Best in Show. She has a Champion of Record wire haired terrier named Ace, who is registered as Ch Roundtown Albany Dreamboat.
A few weeks after Westminster, Sadie competed at the Birmingham, England, dog show Crufts, which drew more than 25,000 dogs. Sadie took first place over 100 Scotties. She then placed second in her group, losing this time to a dog she had beat at Westminster.
Since February, Sadie has been rated number one dog all breeds and has won 60 Best in Show awards. She also has appeared on the cover of several magazines.
'It's the Look'
Sadie lives with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, and his wife, Ivonne, in California and travels around the country each weekend competing in shows.
Mr. Rangel attributes Sadie's success to her physical appearance and her personality. Her proportions are perfect and balanced, he said. She has expressive eyes, a look-at-me attitude, and a beautiful coat.
"She loves to show," he said. "She was absolutely born to be a show dog. She's just like a dream dog."
Photographer Nancy Spelke has photographed Sadie many times, including during the Westminster show. Last June, her photograph of Sadie appeared on the cover of Dog News.
Sadie, she said, is an easy dog to photograph.
"She clearly knows that she's performing," said Ms. Spelke. "She clearly knows that she's a show dog. She knows when to let down and when not to, when to relax and when she shouldn't."
Ms. Spelke attributes Sadie's immaculate appearance to Mr. Rangel.
"Gabriel is a master at what he does," she said, "and a perfectionist at what he does."
Sadie exercises on a treadmill twice a day and she takes walks with Mr. Rangel. She also loves to watch television, he said.
Sadie travels to shows each weekend with the Rangels, their string of dogs, and her best friend, Tad, a Chihuahua who also competes. The two dogs curl up in the same dog bed each night and exercise together every day.
Mr. Rangel said he loves Sadie and appreciates the support he has received from the Mussers.
"It's really a pleasure showing this dog for them," he said. "Many people say she is the best Scotty they have ever seen. The stars all lined up perfectly for this dog."
Scotties are a small dog, and the top of Sadie's head doesn't reach Mr. Rangel's knees. But her attitude and personality stood out in a whole litter of puppies, and she captured the hearts of the Mussers and Mr. Rangel.
"It's the look," said Mrs. Musser, who has shown Wire Fox terriers and Parson Russell terriers for about 30 years and also bred West Highland White terriers at Roundtown. "It's the way she carries herself, and it's the way she uses her body," she said of Sadie, "and it's the way she holds her tail. She also has to have the attitude: 'Look at me, I'm wonderful.'"
Sadie is a descendant of Bardene Bingo, a famous Scotty who was imported from England and won Best in Show at Westminster in 1967. Her breeding showed when, at her first show, Sadie was named the best terrier, recalls Mrs. Musser.
She was bred by Mrs. Musser's kennel manager, Mary O'Neal, and Miriam "Buffy" Stamm and Cindy Cooke of Anstamm Kennels in Kalamazoo.
Old Shoes and Duct Tape
Sadie's first experience at Westminster in 2007 didn't go so well, but the experience helped prepare her for this year's win.
"We had a terrible experience," Mr. Rangel said of the 2007 show.
For starters, he had worn new shoes that made noise Sadie was not familiar with. And then there were the loose floorboards.
For the dog show, Madison Square Garden's hockey ice is covered with wooden boards and then carpeting. The boards were loose, he said, and, combined with the new shoes, created a knocking sound when he walked. Between the noise and the moving boards, Sadie didn't want to move, and she was also distracted by a television monitor in the ring.
"We did very well, anyway," he said. "We got second in the group."
He spent more than a year working with Sadie in preparation for this year's show, adjusting her to the floor movement by transporting her in a rolling cart. He also wore old shoes, and Westminster connected the floorboards with duct tape this year.
"I walked with the dog," he said. "I didn't let her watch television, I didn't make noise with my feet. She was used to the floor and she performed beautifully."
Also in preparation for this year's show, he got Sadie accustomed to looking at unfamiliar people. Specifically, he asked people at other shows to offer her a cookie. This exercise trained Sadie to have eye contact with them, and that would later translate to how she responded to show judges.
"We did our homework," he said. "We really worked for it."