When C.J. the German shorthaired pointer was just a puppy, his owner, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, knew he had something special.
“He’s an old soul. He was born this way. At 6 weeks, he walked across the living room floor and we said, ‘Oh, boy. We have a special one.’ He has that sparkle that makes you stop and look at him.”
The judges at 2016’s Westminster Dog Show agreed that C.J., who’s called The Prince at home, had something special. According to the Washington Post, he’s been described as “golden” and “winning,” with a “graceful, balanced stride and prototypical deep brown hair on his head, combined with a sleek white body complete with freckled brown spots,” USA today added.
And now that C.J. has taken home the Best in Show award for 2016, Nunes-Atkinson said he’ll probably celebrate by playing with his bestie at home, a whippet named Ramona, NBC News reported. Though he was the ultimate professional competitor in the ring, composed and sophisticated, the 3-year-old pooch is much different when he’s not on the job, Valerie told the New York Times.
“He’s silly at home, playing with … Ramona. He’s a typical dog. He gets dirty. He always needs something in his mouth.”
C.J. bested plenty of equally regal and beautiful pooches to grasp the top honor at the 2016 Westminster competition. The competition crowns winners in each breed and group: hound (Lucy the Borzoi), toy (Panda the shih tzu), non-sporting (Annabelle the bulldog), herding (Rumor the German shepherd), sporting (C.J.), working (Bogey the Samoyed), and terrier (Charlie the Sky Terrier).
To be crowned 2016’s Westminster champion, C.J. had to beat out the crowd favorite Rumor, who’s ranked the No. 1 show canine in the country and placed second at this competition last year. But in the end, no canine could rise above the German shorthaired pointer with the sparkling personality, impeccable carriage, and stellar bloodline.
C.J.’s grandmother, Carlee, won in 2005, and Valerie has been in the business since she was 15, when she won Westminster’s award for junior showmanship. For her, winning the 2016 competition was “exactly as I expected it would feel when I was 10.”
When C.J. was announced as the winner, she fell to her knees and hugged and kissed her champion, who remained professionally aloof or perhaps overcome with stoic shock in response.
“I just couldn’t believe it. For us in the sport, this is the pinnacle. This is what we strive for, what we shed tears over. The best dogs come here.”
In the end, C.J. earned his win at Westminster 2016 simply because he epitomized his breed. The German shorthaired pointer has its origins in 19th century Europe, a time when hunting became the sport of the common man and not just the aristocracy, and “lord and laborer” alike needed only the best dog to help him catch game.
The breed soon became Europe’s premiere hunting dog that was “born to run … born to reign.” C.J., a name that stands for California Journey, fit that description to a tee, said judge Richard Meen.
“He oozed that pointer style. It was clear he wasn’t a sight hound. He exhibited all the qualities you want. And the other thing is that he was light and fluid on his feet. Those two qualities were very important to me,” he said. “For me, it’s very important that every dog take me back into the past to what they were bred to do. They were bred to point in the field, and they have to move well. He never stopped looking, focused in front of him, and he floated around the ring.”
The pooch is the third of his kind to win the Westminster Dog Show’s highest honor — Best in Show. It’s also his 18th Best in Show overall. For his owner, the secret to his success is simple.
“He just has that something extra special. He’s a wonderful German shorthaired pointer, but he has major ‘it’ factor, too.”
[Photo by Seth Wenig/AP]