What had her choose this pooch out of a lineup of seven outstanding dogs carefully selected from 2,845 canine candidates? The 5-year-old wire fox terrier had literally left her speechless as “she looked the best tonight from every angle,” explains Leininger who further says it was as if Sky was just saying: “‘Pick me!” When Sky was selected, the pooch happily stood up on her hind legs and then was affectionately scooped up in her handler’s arms.
It’s not the first time a wire fox terrier gets to take the top honors and hear the crowds cheering; indeed, Sky’s victory may taste like some sort of repeated déjà-vu. This is the 14th time a wire fox terrier has won at Westminster. Overall, this is quite a remarkable achievement as no other breed has won more than eight times. And when it comes to Sky, winning is nothing new for her as well as she is a veteran with a total of 129 best in show ribbons and a remarkable first place as the country’s top show dog just last year.
The Sky is the Limit when it Comes to Showing
What makes Sky so special to beat a standard poodle, a miniature pinscher, a Cardigan Welsh corgi, a bloodhound, an Irish water spaniel and a Portuguese water dog? Her ginger-and-white coat gives her a quite, exotic and unusual look, explains Shawn Ryan. But perhaps her way of standing is what had the biggest impact on the judge who confessed that Sky made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Sky surely loves performing and being in shows, and the judges are likely drawn to it, further adds Shawn Ryan.
When it comes to judging show dogs, the judges look at a combination of factors that will yield the best in show prize. Size, proportions, balance and even the shape and size of the eyes are important criteria. In the ring, judges will also look at how the dog moves, which is where the handler’s ability comes in. Sky seemed to have the perfect concoction of all these factors which made her selection almost a no-brainer.
A lot of activities awaited Sky after winning top prize. After patiently posing like a star for the many photographers eager to take a shot, Sky was granted a visit to the top of Empire State Building, lunch at Sardi’s restaurant and then made various appearances on different TV shows.
Getting to Know Sky Better
Sky is currently owned by Victor Malzoni and Torie Steel and co-owners Mary and Scott Olund and Diane Ryan. She was born on June 18, 2008 to sire Ch Fyrewyre Fast and Furious and dam Fyrewyre Forget-me-not. Her breeders are AJ Pertuit Jr from Central, South Carolina and Bety Seaton, from Scandia, Minnesota. Torie Steel fell in love with this breed after watching the Old Thin Man comic series which featured the astute wire-haired fox terrier Asta, played by the canine actor Skippy.
So after breeding Labradors, wheaten terriers, and later Dalmatians, Steel decided to focus mainly on wires with a special emphasis on gingers. When it was finally time to get her own dog, Steel chose a wire fox terrier in 1990 and called her “Asta” in remembrance of the star of her favorite show. Steel now mainly breeds wire fox terriers and standard poodles in her kennels in Laguna Niguel, California. “I always thought that wire fox terriers were a fashionable breed due to their angles and designs” she claims.
As a good standing member of the American Fox Terrier Club, the Western Fox Terrier Breeders Association and the Central States Wire Fox Terrier Club, Steel is a code of ethics breeder who breeds and raises dogs as family companions. She has won the American Fox Terrier Club and Wire Fox Terrier National Parent Club’s Breeder of the Year Award multiple times in 2006, 2009 and 2010. Steel breeds around three to four litters of puppies each year and customers often after must wait a few years before being able to get their hands on a wire fox terrier puppy with the Steel kennel’s prefix.
And what about Sky? “I first saw Sky in 2009 at the 2009 GWTA of Southern California show. Her gorgeous, stunning white-and-tan coat and striking head and saddle markings caught my eye” explains Steel. The rest is then history. Sky has won twice in the Best in Show competition at the International Kennel Club of Chicago and the Great Western Terrier Association Dog Show. In 2012, she won the National Dog Show and the prestigious AKC National championship.
After Sky’s major achievements, Sky’s owners claim that Westminster was likely Sky’s last show and they’re planning to retire her. Sky is planned to happily live the rest of her life with one of her owners that lives in Malibu.
Getting to Know More About Wire Fox Terriers
Interested in learning more about the wire fox terrier? It’s quite normal for this breed to attain a boost of increased interest because of Sky’s remarkable achievements. This sturdy dog is small in sized, and generally weighs between 15 and 21 pounds. Don’t be fooled though by Sky’s red-carpet looks, this breed is a terrier at heart and was originally bred to flush fox and other small game out of their dens. Their strong docked tails were often used by the hunters as handles to pull them out of the deep burrows.
As the breed’s name implies, these dogs have a wired coat which offers the advantage of shedding minimally. The texture is depicted as to being similar to “coconut matting” and the hairs are so dense and strong that the fingers cannot part them to show the skin underneath. Their coats were much favored in the past for hunting in rough terrains, which made them a preferable choice when compared to their smooth-coated counterparts.
When it comes to grooming, this breed needs some periodic brushing and clipping. For those interested in showing dogs like Sky, they’ll have to master the art of hand-stripping, a plucking procedure meant to preserve the texture and luster of the wire fox terrier’s coat.
And what about personality? Handler Gabriel Rangel describes Sky’s personality by saying “she loves to kiss people and she connects with everybody.” Handler Gabriel Rangel describes her as “people-oriented.” The American Kennel Club depicts the breed as being blessed with a friendly and playful nature; traits that makes it an excellent companion for older children. They can be bold, but shouldn’t be aggressive towards people. They are always alert, ready to spring into action or as AKC likes to depict them: “on the tip-toe of expectation at the slightest provocation.”
It’s easy to fall in love with a dog like Sky, but not all homes are the perfect match for this dog. Don’t think you can leave this feisty, active breed in the yard for long periods of time; he’ll get bored and try to dig his way to China or bark at the top of his lings in protest. This breed needs constructive exercise each day and every day, either under the form of jogging, retrieving or agility work. Better yet, enroll him in earthdog trials where he gets to do what he does best: follow the scent of quarry and make his way through man-made underground tunnels.
The Bottom Line
If you are interested in the wire fox terrier, education is key. It’s unfortunate that many times wire fox terriers are purchased without any clear understanding of what it takes into owning one. This leads to many unfortunate wire fox terriers being relinquished to shelters and rescue groups. Getting accustomed with this breed’s temperament and needs is important to prevent unnecessary heartaches.
Did you fall in love with this year’s Westminster winner and you think you have what it takes into owning a specimen of this breed? This breed is not for the faint of heart and consider that a fox wire terrier can live up to 15 years or more! If you are truly interested in a wire fox terrier, you may get a puppy from a responsible code-of-ethics breeder who health tests his breeding stock and will be happy to match you up with an ideal puppy.
Alternatively, if you are looking for an adult terrier that has already gone through the destructive puppy stage, and perhaps has even received some training, you may want to get an adult wire fox terrier from a rescue group. An adult specimen offers more reassurance compared to a puppy, as its behavior has already established. There are many fox wire rescue groups across the States such as the Wire Fox Terrier Rescue Midwest, the Fox Terrier Rescue Northeast and the American Fox Terrier Rescue Inc. of Texas.