It’s Westminster Week (and congrats to Canadian bred dog Ch Robobull Fabelhaft I’m On Fire, who took Best of Breed in French Bulldogs). Westminster week is a big, big deal for dog show people in North America, and we’ve all gotten rather reluctantly used to the spotlight that this inevitably shines on our sport.
Stories about dogs in diamond collars, handlers who fly first class with their ‘clients’ sitting on the seat next to them, and articles about how much money it can cost to make it to the Gardens are rampant, and leave all of us feeling (and usually looking) a little bit silly.
In amongst it all, one story illustrates the real reason why most of do this, weekend after weekend – the friendships we make. If donating a kidney to one of your owners doesn’t illustrate that, I don’t know what does.
From the New York Daily News –
Sandy McCabe would love for dog handler Wade Koistinen to lead her fluffy black-and-white Havanese to victory in Madison Square Garden.
But for McCabe, even a Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show would pale next to what Koistinen has already given her – one of his kidneys.
“I’m just happy to be alive for this,” McCabe said Friday at the Pennsylvania Hotel, surrounded by borzois, bloodhounds and scores of other dogs and owners, all checking in before the show begins on Monday.
McCabe, 49, who breeds Havanese with her husband, Kevin, in rural Iowa, has diabetes and was facing renal failure last summer before her friend Koistinen told her he would help.
“I could just see her getting sicker and sicker. I had to,” said Koistinen, 51, holding McCabe’s entry in the show, Rumor, an outgoing little 4-year-old whose full name is Ch. Heartland’s Rumor Has It.
“I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet,” said McCabe, who was told that it would be four to six years before she climbed to the top of a national waiting list for kidneys. None of her family members was healthy enough to donate one.
But Koistinen, who lives in Kansas City, volunteered. “He stepped forward and said, ‘I will give my kidney,'” McCabe said.