RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – The owner of Finn, a Rough Collie from Ridgefield, predicts that this will be the year for the 5-year-old dog after he took the top prize for his breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Show on Monday.
“Westminster is the show to win. It’s like the Super Bowl of dogs,” said his owner, Jackie Caruso of Ridgefield. “Every breeder dreams of this.”
In 2012, Finn was named the No. 1 Collie in the country in what was meant to be his practice year, Caruso said. “It was so gratifying as a breeder,” she said.
Since he was 6 months old, Finn has been competing in dog shows around the country under his show name, A Perfect Stranger. He was the youngest Collie in the country to become a champion at the age of 9 months.
“We never had to train him,” Caruso said. “He has one of those 'look-at-me' attitudes.”
The passion for Collies began for Caruso and her husband, Ron, about 25 years ago when Ron got her a Collie puppy and a book about the breed for Christmas. After she went to her first show and brought home a ribbon, Caruso said she was hooked.
“It’s a great thing to do once you get into it. But it’s not for the faint of heart,” Carurso said. “There is a lot of heartbreak involved, sometimes. The dog becomes an extension of you.”
Although winning and placing in shows is nice, Caruso said she is showing to keep up the breed's standard. “You really want to preserve and move the breed forward,” she said. Ultimately, Caruso said she wants to breed the dog that everyone wants, which she says was the original purpose for having dog shows.
Finn will show for the next year or two. Before he retires, Caruso said she hopes to place again at Westminster — but what she really wants is for him to win Best in Show.