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2013-02-20 / Columnists

Pes pets pets

This is Zephyr began as a video essay on a college application. That’s all it was supposed to be. This short film about a teen’s bond with her beloved Pointer inside and outside of the Junior showmanship ring sums up the heart and soul of the dog sport in a minute and 37 seconds. It explains how their journey brought them closer together; and in doing so, shows a creative young woman’s coming of age.

Thanks to the internet, the video has touched thousands of teary-eyed dog lovers. As icing on the canine cake, Zephyr is a direct descendant of Sensation, the symbol of Westminster buried in Babylon in 1887. However, Diana Chan, the film maker, didn’t know her dog’s legendary lineage when she completed her college entrance project. Her task was to produce a short video “that captures your essence without putting yourself in the film.”

At Westminster 2013, Diana Chan poses her Pointer “Zephyr” in front of a logo of her dog’s famous ancestor “Sensation.” At Westminster 2013, Diana Chan poses her Pointer “Zephyr” in front of a logo of her dog’s famous ancestor “Sensation.” This is an interactive “Pets.” First, your homework: While we live in a YouTube universe, newspapers like the Record aren’t “link-clickable;” well, not yet. The rest of the Zephyr story will have more impact if you watch Diana’s video before reading any further. Google “D. Chan Productions” and Zephyr is the first video. You will see a chewed bone on the screen. Or type “This is Zephyr” into YouTube. Otherwise the link is: watch?v=ll1U-dpQbyU.

Seventeen-year-old Diana Chan of Old Saybrook, CT has been showing her Pointer Zephyr (Ch Bookstor Wind In The Willows) for five years. Most Junior handlers are born into the dog show tradition. Not so with Diana. She grew up with her family’s rescued Papillon. When she expressed an interest in handling, she borrowed a neighbor’s Bernese Mountain Dog to take to class. Instructor Susan Savage, vice president of the American Pointer Club, noticed a shy girl with tremendous potential. The borrowed Berner was too cumbersome for her. Susan lent her one of her Pointers, the start of a wonderful mentorship.

“Diana was a natural with a soft hand,” recalled Susan. Her shyness reminded her of her own daughter. Susan assured Diana’s mom that participation in Junior showmanship would help the young handler to gain confidence. She was correct. Watching Diana and the other impeccably polished Juniors compete at Westminster last Tuesday was like seeing a finishing school graduation exercise.

After a year of fun matches with the borrowed Pointer, it was time for Diana to choose her breed. A Pointer, of course; so, for the first time Susan reached out to colleagues for a Pointer puppy, rather than a retired champion for a Junior. She contacted Karen Spey, Bookstor Pointers in NJ. Karen purchased her first Pointer from Susan 26 years ago. Karen bred the puppy Zephyr.

Karen joined Diana’s extended family too. Diana and Zephyr make a wonderful team. The duo went on to win many ribbons, competing against adults, as well as earning Junior titles at the National Specialty. In April 2011, Zephyr had a litter of four. The Chans kept two puppies. We all watched Zephyr’s son, “Willy Wonka,” compete in the breed ring at Westminster last week.

Diana, a high school senior, wants to major in film at college. The Zephyr video was destined for Chapman University in California, but it went many places in the dog world too. “My idea was to use simple repetition that slowly speeds up, and then hit viewers with a bash at the end,” Diana explained.

She aced it.

Power of Pressing “Send”: My pal Karen Blasche in Oregon, historian for the American Pointer Club, sent me the Zephyr video before Christmas. Karen has helped immeasurably in our Babylon search for Sensation’s grave, and also proofreads “Pets” every week. I was so moved that I sent it directly to Mary Bloom, Westminster’s staff photographer, who was also impressed. Mary felt the film evoked the spirit of Christmas as well as the fancy. She emailed it to various dog devotees, including Susan Sprung, wife of American Kennel Club (AKC) president Dennis Sprung.

The Eukanuba show was going on in Orlando. After Mrs. Sprung watched the video at 3:30 a.m., she woke up poor Mr. Sprung. He understood why as soon as he saw it. Diana was at the Florida show, so he invited her to the delegate meeting for a screening of the film. Diana received a standing ovation from an audience of several hundred. She was the first guest at an AKC delegate meeting since 2001.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, Diana entered the Zephyr video in the Dog Writers Association of America contest and would be receiving the Junior Writer award on Westminster eve. Diana, her mom and Zephyr were invited to the dinner. Zephyr joined Diana at the podium. Except for service dogs, dogs never join guests in the hotel ballroom so this was quite an honor. There was also talk of putting the Zephyr video on the Westminster website but that is tricky since Diana and Zephyr were entered in Juniors. It could make Westminster look biased in their favor.

Sensational Pedigree: Many show Pointers may be related to Sensation, whose image graces everything Westminster, but the “Bee Serious” line can document their ancestry back to him. I wrote about a Tennessee Pointer entered at Westminster in 2011, when his owner made this claim to fame, and it turned out to be true.

Zephyr’s sire, Chesterhope Lets Be Serious, (aka “Breeze”- hence, his daughter’s name is “Zephyr”) is a champion in Australia, New Zealand and England. Ch Albelarm’s Bee Serious, a top-winning Pointer, was Zephyr’s great grandsire. If you are interested, look him up on the English River Pointer site where he traces back to Sensation two different ways- in 24 and 25 generations.

Zephyr is a doll. At ringside, she cradles her head in your hands and leans up against you as if she has known you for ages. The fact that Sensation plays a part in Diana and Zephyr’s triumph thrills us to no end. Karen B., always an historian, mused: “Bet old Don [Sensation’s real name] is softly tapping his tail on the floor approvingly as he follows it all from above in front of a cozy fire.”

P. S. Chapman University had 1,000 film applicants. Diana didn’t get in. ‘Tis their loss.

Squeezing in Babylon Town Shelter Adoptables (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon:

This sweet Chihuahua “Princess” #13-94 was found in Copiague the day after Sandy; and “Moe”#13-93 the stray Pug has a microchip that says he is four years old.

More: “Lexi” #13-88-Pit puppy; “Drifter” #13-91-Shihtzu; “Foxy” #13-82 Chihuahua; “Red” #3-21- orange kitten.

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