Former Northville resident makes second appearance at Westminster

02/17/2016 6:00 AM |

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Fanucci, a German shepherd — not the character from The Godfather — suffered a “freak accident” last year. He was hit by a truck, fractured his leg and was nearly euthanized.

Veterinarians didn’t expect him to walk again. And they certainly didn’t expect him to become a show dog.

But on Monday, Fanucci proved everyone wrong. The dog, handled by former Northville resident Susan Condreras, walked in the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday.

“He has the heart of a lion,” Ms. Condreras said of the dog. “Here is he a year later getting a select at the German shepherd nationals and making it to Westminster and showing very well … He’s just an absolute great dog.”

The dog, who’s registered name is Gch. Stuttgart’s Now Don’t Refuse Me of Masrock, has been training with Ms. Condreras for about eight months in preparation for Monday’s show and marks the first time Ms. Condreras, who recently moved to Farmingville, handled professionally.

Although it is her first time handling, it’s not her first appearance at Westminster. Last year, Leslie Dancosse handled Ms. Condreras’ German shepherd Rocket, who earned an award of merit at the show. This year the two switched positions, as Ms. Dancosse is one of Fanucci’s three owners.

“It’s funny — I had more of a nervous energy last year as an owner,” Ms. Condreras said. “The excitement was in the fact that I actually owned a dog that achieved the status of champion, that made it to Westminster. This year the excitement was actually going in the ring as a handler to take the dog in and show a dog.”

Ms. Condreras began an apprenticeship with Ms. Dancosse over a year ago, originally handling her dog Rocket at smaller shows, she said. As time went on she began handling other dogs for clients and eventually began handling Fanucci.

She said that as a handler you have to “really show the dog” and make sure the judge sees all the animal’s best qualities, which sometimes requires hiding any faults. Fortunately for Ms. Condreras, Fanucci has everything the breed standard asked for.

Monday’s show was a benched show, which means that the general public is allowed to visit the dogs, meet the handlers and owners, and ask questions they may have about the breed.

“Going in the ring and showing the dogs is always exciting, but my favorite part is talking to all the people — especially the kids,” Ms. Condreras said.

Fanucci was able to enter Westminster, which she called “the Super Bowl of dog shows” as a grand champion dog. This means that he has earned over 15 points at other dog shows. Two of these shows have to be considered “majors.” At most shows, dogs that place receive one point, while at larger shows the animals can garner up to three points.

Competing as an American Select Champion dog, Fanucci didn’t take home a prize from Westminster on Monday.

But that doesn’t mean he lost, either.

“He showed very well yesterday — extremely well,” she said. “I’m happy with the way he performed and the way I performed … a number of people came up to us and said we were deserving of [a win], including other judges, so that made us feel very good.”

And with that, Ms. Condreras is hopeful as she looks forward to next year.

Photo Caption: Susan Condreras showing Fanucci at the German Shepherd Dog Club of America Nationals. (Credit: Courtesy)

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