By Leslie Adatto
Shelley Barclay and Mona Stiles are owners of 4-year-old Homer, a PBGV (Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen). They live on Bethune Street.
On February 15, Homer competed at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the third time in his short life. He has been in the top 20 PBGVs in the country for the past two years.
What is the Westminster Kennel Club dog show?
Started in 1877, Westminster is the largest and most prestigious dog show in the country. For three days in February, 3,000 dogs from all over the world compete at Piers 92, 94 and Madison Square Garden. This year, 12 PBGVs competed: 9 males and 3 females.
How does a dog get to compete at Westminster?
The dog must be an American Kennel Club-recognized pure breed and have previously had a “Major” win at a dog show.
What is a Grand Champion?
A “Champion” has 2 Major wins and 15 total points; a “Grand Champion” has 3 Major wins and 25 total points.
How old was Homer when he first reached Champion level?
Homer was born on Oct 2, 2011 in Irving Texas. He was second pick of his litter and championed when he was less than 2 years old in August 2013.
How do you know that Homer loves to compete?
PBGVs are known as the ‘happy breed.’ Shelley confirms, “He likes seeing people and being out in public.”
Is Homer Shelley and Mona’s first PBGV?
There were two females before Homer: Flora Kate, their first PBGV, was a Top Champion in Agility. Annie was a “couch potato” who never competed. Neither were show dogs.
Why did you name him Homer?
Shelley and Mona met many years ago in Homer, NY when involved with the summer theater festival. They are also Yankee fans and “Homer” doubles as a baseball reference.
PBGVs are a 35-pound French hound bred for hunting hare, small deer and wild boar in packs. How does this affect Homer’s life as a West Village resident?
He looks out for pigeons and starlings. He also has a lot of energy and gets six walks a day plus doggy treadmill time.
6 walks a day? Plus treadmill time? Is he a high-energy breed?
Homer enjoys three walks with his dog walker and three more with his owners. The additional twenty-five minutes (approximately two miles) on the treadmill gives him the chance to run, which isn’t readily available in the city, and to build muscle, even during cold months.
How do you prepare a PBGV like Homer for Westminster?
He has a bath. Then he is groomed using a stripping knife, a pumice and a comb to pull out extra hair.
Would you recommend this breed for others in the neighborhood?
Shelley says, “I’d recommend this breed for anyone who has time to train, and has a lot of patience. They need exercise and a lot of stimulation. This isn’t a breed to leave home all day without company or exercise. They’re a very big dog in a small dog’s body, and aren’t for the faint of heart! They need a firm hand while young, and the payoff for it is a fantastic, funny dog!
Homer is a pet. How unusual is this for a dog at his competitive level?
He has not been bred, but all show dogs are kept intact (not neutered) while they are being shown.
Are there plans to breed Homer?
“I hope that someone with a nice girl is going to want him,” says Shelley, with a knowing smile on her face.
Author’s Note: There are three Grand Champion dogs in the West Village: Sirius, a 150-pound Newfoundland, lives with his owner, Eli Pines, on Bank Street, and Bond, a 5-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, lives with his owner, Katherine Schwartz, on Washington Street.
Leslie Adatto, author of Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftops, loves the beautiful West Village dogs almost as much as she loves NYC rooftops.