PITTSFIELD -- A local store owner has returned from her first foray into the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City with one ribbon and one finalist in the borzoi Russian wolfhound breed.

"I was so nervous," said Pauline Coe, owner of Dunking Doggies, a self-serve dog washing salon and pet supply store. "It was stressful. But these two were just fine," she added, nodding toward Jag, the ribbon winner, and Ryan, his uncle and a finalist in the competition.

Ryan, the older of the two at 6 years old, is the more gregarious of the two. Four-year-old Jag is "more laid back," Boyle said, although both dogs are instantly friendly and affectionate to a new acquaintance.

The borzoi breed originated with the Russian aristocracy and has since become a sought-after specialty breed. They are known to be intelligent, independent and hardly ever bark -- as such they are valued as well-mannered house dogs.

Coe and her partner, Colleen Boyle, started breeding the dogs in 1997. The hobby led the two Pittsfield natives to a piece of land in Stephentown where they located their kennel and their 17 dogs. And these are not 17 small dogs. They grow to be more than 100 ponds and stand roughly 30 inches or more at the shoulders. Their shape is similar to greyhounds, but with longer hair.

Over time, the passion for the breeding and training of the borzoi led them to realize that local pet owners could use a self-service doggie washing salon because these dogs are just too big to wash in the bath tub.

"We figured there's got to be an easier way, so we came up with this," Coe said.

Dunking Doggies opened in 2002 on West Housatonic Street and has been cleaning up ever since.

At the Westminster show, each breed has a set of standards laid out against which each dog is rated.

Although this was their first try at Westminster, they have shown their dogs at other events.

"We run into friends, and go to places we've never seen before," Coe said. "And we get to spend time with our dogs. It's a blast."

While Coe and Boyle chat, Jag and Ryan sniff out the baskets of doggie treats and each swipe one before they get caught. They settle down on the floor and start gnawing on their swag.

"Entering in this show was a huge goal for us," Boyle said.

"The next goal is best of breed," Coe added.

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford