He’s Brooklyn’s top dog!
A Clinton Hill resident will join the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as an expert judge next month. The local hound authority will put his 51 years of experience to work appraising some of the finest fur balls this nation has to offer at the forthcoming pup pageant on Feb. 11 and 12.
“When you have the top dogs all over the country and the world competing, it’s not an easy task,” said dog expert Dr. Donald Sturz.
Sturz, who works as the superintendant of a public school district in Long Island, has been involved in canine competitions since he was 8-years-old, and he first entered Westminster in the junior category to show the family golden retriever at age 10.
The good doctor and his French bulldog, Emmett, moved to Kings County in 2015, saying Brooklyn fuses the art and entertainment of Manhattan with Long Island’s pastoral qualities to create the perfect environment for raising a cultured canine.
“You get a little bit of that urban culture, but there’s still trees and flowers and grass,” said Sturz. “It’s a very dog-friendly place.”
The upcoming Miss America pageant for mutts will mark Sturz’s ninth time judging at Westminster. He will appraise canine candidates in the beagle and dachshund categories, where the entrants can expect intense scrutiny from the Clinton Hill resident, he said.
“It comes down to details,” said Sturz. “Each breed has a standard that establishes the different qualities you’re looking for and it gets into minute levels.”
Sturz, who is the second Brooklynite in recent years to nab a coveted spot on the Westminster judging panel, said that he will assess dachshund contenders based on whether they have the traits to do the job they were bred for — chasing badgers into holes. For the dogs’ ancestors, physical adherence to breed standards was crucial, even if most current-day contestants couldn’t tell a badger hole from a pothole.
“It’s important to remember these breeds were bred to do specific jobs,” Sturz explained. “A lot of those features are life or death for the dogs, when it came to doing their job.”
And Sturz won’t just be judging dogs. The beagle buff will also evaluate pint-sized human handlers in the junior showmanship category, where he will look for the best example of the age-old connection between man and beast.
“Basically you’re looking for the connection they have with their dog, and the way they’re able to accomplish what’s needed to present the dog to the judge in an effective way,” said Sturz.