Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show hosts Calgary dog Blackberry

The once naughty Blackberry, a Shetland Sheepdog, will have the honour of competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York next week.

It's a big leap for a dog that used to eat socks and bathmats

A Calgary sheltie named Blackberry will have the honour of competing against more than 3,000 dogs at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York next week. 

It's a first for the black-and-white Shetland Sheepdog and his owner and breeder, Karen Linkletter.

The pair are what you might call underdogs heading into the competition.

The future looked promising for Blackberry, who was shown as a puppy and placed well in his Canadian competitions. 

"Then he proceeded to go on and eat several foreign bodies — actually six in total," said Linkletter in an interview with CBC's The Homestretch.

In his adolescence, Blackberry developed a penchant for swallowing things like socks and bathmats, prompting his vet to joke that they should install a zipper to aid in extraction.

"He had a lot of expensive vet bills and a shaved belly for a lot of his life, so I wasn't able to show him," Linkletter said.

Then he "got a little older and more mature, and made some better life choices about what he's going to eat," she laughed.

Now that his coat has grown back in, and thanks to his wealth of hair products, he's ready to compete against some of the best show dogs in the world at Madison Square Garden next week.

Linkletter, who is not a professional dog trainer, acknowledged that the competition will be steep but said she's looking forward to the experience.

"Blackberry is far more ready than I am. He's calm and cool and happy," Linkletter said. "Nothing really stresses Berry out."

"I would love to win the breed, but who knows."

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