Blackberry the sheltie wins award at 1st-ever Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Blackberry, a five-year-old Shetland Shepherd from Calgary, has won a runner-up award of merit for the best of breed category at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

5-year-old Blackberry has come a long way from Canadian champion to American champion to award winner

​Blackberry, a five-year-old Shetland sheepdog from Calgary, has won an award of merit at the Westminster Kennel Club — the Oscars of dog shows.

His award of merit means Blackberry was the runner-up in the best of breed dog category, his human companion Karen Linkletter told Calgary Eyeoepener host David Gray.

The competition was steep.

"We didn't make it to the big ring," said Linkletter. "These are the best dogs in North America.... It was really exciting to compete against them, and to be recognized."

Shelties a playful, energetic breed

Like all Shetland sheepdog (commonly called shelties), Blackberry looks bigger than he is — as all that long fur combed into an impressive black and white mane conceals a smallish body weighing just 22 pounds.

Originally bred to herd sheep and small livestock in Scotland, Shelties are known for being bright, energetic and playful.

"I don't think he's ever seen a sheep," laughed Linkletter, a horse trainer by trade. "But he's very good around horses."

Fierce competition

To qualify for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, dogs need to be American Champions — a qualification dogs have to earn by accumulating points from judged dog shows.

Blackberry became an American Champion last year after earning his Canadian championship. He ranked third in Canada, even though his showings were limited.

"I don't do this full time," explained Linkletter, who does dog training and showing as a hobby.

"He's done way better than I ever expected."

A Scotsman in New York

Blackberry was out of his usual element when he and Linkletter travelled to New York City for the show.

New York is a dog-friendly city in many ways, said Linkletter, "but there is no grass in New York, and for a dog that's used to doing his business on the grass."

Relief came with a hint from their hotel's doorman, who told Linkletter about a grassy boulevard that runs down the centre of New York's famed Park Avenue.

"So we would toddle across the street to the centre of Park Avenue, and he took to it no problem," said Linkletter. "He knew where to go by day two."

Linkletter hasn't yet decided how to celebrate Blackberry's award, but she said a special cake might be in order.

New York is not the most friendly city for dogs used to doing their business on the grass, but Blackberry found a good spot. (Karen Linkletter)


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