Carson City Spinone to compete in Westminster Dog Show

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) A local Italian Spinone has been invited to next week's Westminster Dog Show in New York City.

"I still can't believe that it's happened, to be honest with you," said Carson City's Elaine Bergenheier.

She first got Ryker as a pet, but it quickly became clear that he was special. In fact, a judge approached her at a show and told her to get a handler so she could enter him into some more prestigious events.

"For people who know dogs well, you can really look at Ryker and there's something about him," added Bergenheier. "In the show world they call it the it factor. They excel in the ring; they're confident in the ring. It's their thing."

Ryker has risen pretty fast, with 36 career group placements already, meaning finishing in the top four in the sporting division. And he was just named the 'Best in Show" at an event in August in Washington.

"He's a great mover; I mean I think in the ring that's really breath-taking," said Bergenheier. "His presence of course. He's a muscular dog, so I think that's what garners us the attention."

Ryker is the number one ranked Spinone in the country, and will have to compete against 19 others at the Westminster. If he's named "Best of Breed", he'll advance to compete for "Best in Group" among the other hunting breeds. Then the top seven; one from every division, advance to compete for the "Best of Show" award.

It's the second straight year that a Spinone from Carson City has performed in the Westminster Dog Show. Last year Stacey Belt's dog Adele was named the "Best in Breed".

"She had a once-in-a-lifetime dog and she set records and we all went oh my gosh this is so crazy," admitted Bergenheier. "And she calls me often and goes like, way to go, attaboy. Rooting for you."

The Westminster Dog Show begins February 9, 2019. Ryker and his handler, Joshua Hargis, will get their shot in the ring Tuesday.

"It's exciting and humbling and surreal," added Bergenheier.

The "Best in Show" round of the Westminster Dog Show will air on Fox Sports 1 Tuesday at 5PM.