Latitude Margaritaville Pup to Compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

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When James Brady and his wife, Suzanne, went to Kentucky to pick up a dog, all they were looking for was a pet. They had no idea they were getting a rockstar in the show dog world. When they picked up Ruger, a four-year-old Flat-Coated Retriever, the breeder asked them to enter him in show competition, make him a champion, and keep him intact for a couple of breedings. The Bradys agreed and entered Ruger in the American Kennel Club (AKC) National Championship in Orlando, the largest dog show in the U.S. with over 5,000 dogs entered. Shown under his AKC registered name, Stoneridge Shot Through The Heart, Ruger won points all four days and became a Champion.

Ruger Becomes Grand Champion Gold In Clemson, Sc, Jan. 6, 2024
Ruger becomes Grand Champion Gold in Clemson, SC, Jan. 6, 2024

After the show, the Bradys brought Ruger home and he soon settled into an enjoyable life of long walks, retrieving the tennis ball in the field and the bumper in the water. James says, “We just loved having him with us, he had made Champion, we had a breeder lined up, and we would have been perfectly happy retiring him from the show dog world and making him a full-time pet. But everyone kept telling us that becoming a champion in a week was unheard of and we began to wonder if he could do more. When he entered the ring, he constantly wagged his tail and sometimes threw his head back as if to say “Look at me” while moving around the ring. He looked like he was enjoying himself.” Suzanne loved the way he looked and moved in the ring and thought it would be nice if others could see him.

James, Suzanne, And Ruger At Home In MargaritavilleSo the Bradys decided to let Ruger compete for his Grand Championship against dogs who had become champions. In his first two shows in Clemson, SC, and Brooksville, FL, he won four Best of Breeds and needed one more point to become Grand Champion. The next show was in Lakeland, FL. Friday he won Best of Breed and became a Grand Champion. The next day was special because it was a supported entry by the Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America. There were 48 Flat-Coated Retrievers entered and Ruger won Best of Breed. Later in the afternoon, he competed against the other sporting dog winners and won third place. Sunday, he won another Best of Breed and another third place in the Sporting Group. In a short time, with limited showings, he was the number one Flat-Coated Retriever in the country. “We could not believe what was happening,” says Suzanne. “After all, all we wanted was a pet.”

The Bradys enjoyed the excitement of the shows, traveling to new cities, meeting interesting people, learning about the show dog world, and watching Ruger so they continued to show him. Over two years and 45 shows in 18 states, he has won 80 Best of Breeds, 10 Sporting Group Placements (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th), and has become Grand Champion Gold (400 points).

As Ruger transitions from show dog to full-time pet, the Bradys have cut back on his shows. In February, he showed again in Lakeland at another supported entry and won two Best of Breeds and a second and third place in the Sporting Group. He’s entered in a couple of shows to stay in shape for Westminster in May. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the most prestigious dog show and the second-oldest sporting event in the country. Westminster will be the pinnacle of the incredible once-in-a-lifetime journey the Bradys have enjoyed with Ruger. James says, “Ruger was gifted from God. You can’t teach the way he looks and moves in the ring. We are the luckiest people in the world to have him and be able to compete at Westminster.”

And how does Ruger feel about this? Suzanne says, “He loves being in the ring and getting attention, but he also loves to run and play and swim. He just wants to be a dog. He loves everybody and everybody loves him. Some call him Rockin’ Ruger, Royal Ruger, or Rockstar, and whether he wins or loses at Westminster, to us he will always just be our boy Ruger.”