Arnold and Jo Alferness had little idea eight years ago when they bought their wire fox terrier Rosie that she would someday be great-grandmother to the best of breed at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The Alferness couple purchased Rosie when she was seven from wire fox terrier breeder Betty Seaton of Scandia.
When the judges at last week’s Feb. 10-11 Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden picked the best of breed for wire fox terriers, they announced that it was AfterAll Painting the Sky. Sky is the great-granddaughter of Rosie.
The Alfernesses were watching the judging for best of breed wire fox terriers at the Westminster show through video streaming on their computer.
“It was really neat, really fun,” Jo said. When the results were announced, “We were excited,” she said. “It was pretty exciting to think there was a little bit of connection down from our dog. What were the chances of that?”
The connection between Rosie and Sky, goes this way: Rosie, whose pedigree name is Seaton Hall Tickled Pink, had a male pup named Seaton Hall Ace is the Place, who had a female pup named Fyrewyre Forget Me Not, who is the mother of Sky.
The litter of pups that Seaton Hall Ace is the Place was part of were born prior to Jo and Arnold acquiring Rosie.
“We never, ever gave it a thought,” Jo said about the chance that there would someday be a connection between their dog and a best of breed winner in such an important dog show such as Westminster.
But the Alfernesses have never had doubts that Rosie was the best of the four wire fox terriers they have owned, and also the best of any dog they’ve owned of any breed.
Their first dog was what they call a Heinz 57 mixture, named Yuly, and their second dog was a German shepherd named Colonel.
Then came the Alferness couple’s wire fox terriers, a breed of terrier with a wiry coat in contrast to the smooth fox terrier.
Arnold and Jo’s first two wire fox terriers were males – first Fritz and then Higgins, both of which died from being hit by motor vehicles. The last two were females – Bunny, and then Rosie.
Jo says that she and Arnold were lucky to have gotten Rosie because, as Jo described Rosie, the dog is of show-dog caliber. Jo said there was a dog showman who had seen a picture of Rosie prior to Jo and Arnold learning about her, and was inquiring about Rosie’s characteristics. If it hadn’t been for Seaton being ill at the time of that inquiry, Rosie might have been sold to that person, Jo said.
While Arnold and Jo couldn’t compliment Rosie enough on her mellow behavior, they also spent some time recalling their late wire fox terrier Higgins as having had the kind of high-energy disposition found in many terriers.
Arnold says he has never been upset with any of his dogs like he was with Higgins due to Higgins frequently giving the couple the slip and ending up in various parts of Princeton. Arnold explained that when they opened the front door, Higgins would sometimes slip out and wouldn’t respond to calls to come back.
Higgins would be seen downtown and in other parts of town, and once someone caught him, they would see the number on Higgins’ collar and call Arnold and Jo to come get him. One night Arnold got a call from a person on the north end of Princeton who found Higgins inside the man’s car. The man was working on the car at the time and Higgins jumped in through an open car door, afraid of the thunderstorm that was going on, Arnold said.
Higgins was so energetic that “we could have had 10 kids with Higgins and it wouldn’t have kept him busy enough,” Arnold said.
Arnold and Jo noted that Sky has accomplished many show wins, not only in the United States, but also abroad. Sky won best in show in both the National Dog Show in Philadelphia and the Eukanuba National Dog Show in Orlando last year. Jo says the Eukanuba show is considered one of the most prestigious in the world.
Sky also made what is called her “specials” debut in Paris July 5-8, 2011. There, Sky was awarded best female wire fox terrier in the French championship show and also named best of breed in terrier group 1 and was third in best of show.
Sky is owned by Victor Malzoni and Torie Steele, with co-owners Mary and Scott Olund and Diane Ryan. Seaton and Alton Pertuit are listed as Sky’s breeders.
Sky has the ginger color that Rosie has, a less common coloration for wire fox terriers.
The Alfernesses have been following the story of Sky’s rise to success. Seaton sold Sky at 11 weeks to a woman near Chicago, who later moved to California. While in California, the woman called around looking for a dog groomer and reached Gabriel Rangel, who Jo says is an “important man” in dog handling circles. Jo says that Rangel at first told the women he didn’t have the time to groom Sky but she persisted and he consented.
When Rangel saw Sky, he was so impressed that he told the woman he had to show Sky, and did so without charge when the woman said she couldn’t afford his normal fees, Jo said.
Jo told one more story about Sky that had to do with the late professional dog handler named Ric Cashoeciun, whose favorite breed of dogs was the wire fox terrier. Rangel took Sky to Cashoeciun’s home in South Carolina to show him Sky when Cashoeciun was ailing with a heart condition and in a wheelchair. The story goes that Cashoeciun had Sky run up and down his driveway to see how the dog carried itself.
After having the dog go through such routines, Cashoeciun declared, “I never thought I’d live to see a perfect dog,” and Sky was one of the last things that Cashoeciun saw before he died a week later, Jo said.
Arnold and Jo, prior to the Westminster Dog Show, spread the word to various friends about Rosie having a connection to a wire fox terrier that could do well in the show, and that they might watch it. “We were telling everybody to watch,” Arnold said. “When you retire, any little thing makes your day.”
Afterward, they spread the story about Sky’s best of breed win.
But not all is roses for Rosie. She moves slowly these days, as she has arthritis in the back portion of her body, making it difficult for her to stand much, Arnold says.
It’s common for people to mourn the loss of pets, and when Rosie’s end comes, the Alferness couple will have one more memory to cherish about Rosie and her connection to fame.