By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher (U.S. Army CommunicationsElectronics Command (CECOM))May 8, 2018
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT -- In less than two years Elsa grew to be a seasoned professional with the bearing and physical traits of a champion that earned her an invitation to compete in one of the oldest sporting events in the United States.
The young Bulldog's debut performance captured second place in the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show's best of breed contest after besting 17 competitors. She narrowly missed the opportunity to appear on television with the seven other breed-group finalists for the best in show competition.
Millions of people are captivated by the annual event, where thousands of dogs vie for the top spot in their respective categories in hopes of claiming the ultimate prize of best in show.
Industrial Engineering Technician Joe Alexander and his wife, Laura, travelled to New York City with their beloved pet to see how she would stack up against the competition. Joe works in the Continuous Process Improvement Directorate's Process Improvement Division and Laura works as a receiver for DLA Distribution Tobyhanna.
Elsa had performed well at a number of dog shows throughout the year, and Joe and Laura were confident the young pup would win over the judges during this high stakes competition. Bulldogs compete in the non-sporting category and judges consider criteria such as movement, temperament and build when giving a dog a score. The 2018 Westminster event drew 2,882 entries in 202 breeds and varieties.
"We're still in shock," said Laura, who is also Elsa's handler. "She did so well despite the chaotic environment." Laura remarked that there were people and animals everywhere and the excitement of the event was overwhelming at times.
Grace under pressure is how Joe described Laura's performance in the ring. He commended her patience and ability to stay calm in such a stressful situation.
For the Alexanders, it was a dream come true when their award-winning Bulldog earned enough points to qualify for Westminster. Elsa is on track to become a champion, which automatically qualifies her to compete in the big leagues next year.
"This was our first time competing at such a high-level event," Joe said, noting that he and Laura had attended the event as spectators a few years ago and hoped to return as competitors. "It was an experience we'll never forget."