3-Minute Interview: Mary Ann Waldo

When the top dogs prance into Madison Square Garden at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Monday and Tuesday, the San Mateo resident’s Border Collie will be among them. Ch. Kensington’s Charlie Chaplain — Charlie to his friends — will be defending his 2007 Best in Breed title. He will join a Sussex spaniel from Woodside and an English setter from Redwood City in the competition, which will be broadcast on USA at 8 p.m.

I understand this is like the Super Bowl for show dogs. Can Charlie defend his title? We have high hopes, but it’s a very nebulous thing. You just never know because any given day the dog could be off or on, the handler could be off or on, and you never know about the judges. But Charlie won three major shows last year — the Cow Palace show here in San Francisco, the Eukanuba show in Long Beach and the Westminster show.

What constitutes the perfect specimen? Are they a good-looking dog? Do they have movement and enthusiasm in the ring? The most beautiful dog in the world might not like to show. Movement in the border collie is based on stretch and kick — they stretch with their front legs and kick with their hind legs. When Charlie gets going, he looks like he has only one foot on the ground at all times, that’s how stretched he is. Border collies should have a straight back with their head down, so they can look the sheep in the eye.

Why border collies? They are so alert and they’re very bright. Of course, that does you in sometimes. They don’t kowtow to your every whim and they need a lot of attention. We have two of them at home and we walk them four times a day. But they pay you back, they’re very loving. It makes them fun, but it takes a lot of time to keep them under control.

tbarak@examiner.com

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