Kelley Cheek searched for nearly a year and a half for the perfect pointer puppy, but when she found it, she wasn’t sure how to break the news to her roommate, Sara Apel. "She said, ‘Don’t freak out; I got a new dog, and she’s here,’” Apel said. "So we came home with a new dog.” Thus, Cheek bought the 8-week-old female pointer three years ago at a dog show and named it Savvy after the word Captain Jack Sparrow often says in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean.” Last week, Savvy became the top pointer at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Even with her new dog celebrity and champion status, Savvy still lives a normal household dog’s life in Tulsa with Cheek, 31 and Apel, 28. The household also includes a 5-year-old male pointer named Oriole, a 2-year-old female Italian greyhound named Leia and even a calico cat named Toffee. The bright lights, national television cameras and judges are now replaced with squeaky dog toys and sofa pillows. Cheek, who works as a dog groomer at PetSmart, said this is exactly what good breeders want for their dogs with show potential. "Day-to-day life is absolutely no different,” Cheek said. "First of all, they’re pets, but if you want to show them, that’s OK. A good breeder is primarily concerned with them going to a good home.” Savvy trained as a hunting dog and became a champion show dog last fall. Her win in the "best of breed” category at Westminster was her second win as a champion pointer. "I didn’t know she would be this good,” Cheek said. "I had hoped, though. Definitely.”
AT A GLANCEChampion canine care Dog care can vary from breed to breed, but some ideas are universal, even if your dog will never make it to Westminster. Here are some of Kelley Cheek’s tips on tending to your own furry friend: →Food: High nutritional content is key, as canines are carnivores, so check the label on the dog food bag to see whether the primary ingredient is some type of meat. "If the first ingredient is corn, it might not be best for your dog,” Cheek said. →Fur: To give dogs that extra glossy coat with less shedding, a tablespoon of lard once each day with food helps. →Fitness: Regular exercise, from flying discs to fun runs, not only keeps a dog in shape, but also will make indoor dogs less destructive. →Friends: Socializing a dog around other animals and people at an early age will make a dog healthier and happier later in life and will make it well-mannered, not just for dog shows but also for house guests.
WHAT’S NEXTBecause of the cost of going to various shows year-round, Kelley Cheek said Savvy’s next showing will likely be the March 28-29 Claremore Kennel Club of Oklahoma show at Will Rogers Downs.