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Doug Carlson leads Denzel around the ring at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which was held Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 10 and 11. (Submitted photo)

Rio Gran’s ‘Denzel’ wins Best of Breed at Westminster

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It’s the biggest dog show event of the year, and the Beskau family of Hastings was excited just to be competing in it. But on Monday, Feb. 10, their Boston Terrier won Best of Breed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, beating 31 other dogs that had already proven to be the best in the nation.

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“It was amazing, just really cool,” Karen Beskau said.

Beskau is the owner of Rio Gran, a Hastings-based dog breeding, training, boarding and grooming business. In December, she got the golden ticket from the Westminster Kennel Club inviting her two dogs, BISS Grand Champion Motif's Unstoppable at Rio (a.k.a. “Denzel”) and Grand Champion Rio’s Fino Monster (a.k.a. “Patton), to compete in the big show.

Patton, a Doberman Pinscher, had to withdraw from the show and was unable to compete because he hadn’t been feeling well, Beskau said. That was the bad news. The good news was that Denzel won Best of Breed.

“We had hoped for Best of Breed,” Beskau said, “but we were thrilled (when he actually got it).”

The Beskaus weren’t able to go to New York to attend the show in person, so they watched it all live online through the Westminster dog show web site. They watched from the new grooming school, which Rio Gran recently opened just north of Hastings along Highway 61. There, grooming staff could watch, too. Beskau had made sure extended family could access the live video stream as well, and a number of Rio Gran customers also tuned in to see Denzel compete. Before the show, the Beskaus set up a Facebook page just for Denzel so his fans could keep up on how he did.

Winning at Westminster is no easy task.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime-thing,” Beskau said.

The show is by invitation only, and the Westminster Kennel Club invited the ranked top 20 dogs in the breed, as well as a few others who met the qualification standards.

“The competition was beautiful. The top of the top were there,” Beskau said.

One of Denzel’s competitors Monday was a female Boston Terrier he’d been trading wins with all year. The Beskaus figured the female would win this year, and since her owners planned to retire her after Westminster, the Beskaus expected that Denzel’s win would be next year.

Then they watched as the show judge walked up to Denzel and picked him as the top dog out of all the Boston Terriers there.

“I thought I needed CPR,” Beskau said.

She and everyone else watching with her were whistling and screaming out of excitement, she said. Even a couple days after, she has to pinch herself and re-watch the video just to make sure it’s real.

Denzel’s Best of Breed win was only showed online, but his achievement earned him a spot in the next rank of competition: Best of Group. Boston Terriers competed in the non-sporting group, which includes 20 total breeds. The Best of Breed winners from each breed appeared in the same show ring, vying for Best of Group. That competition was televised nationally on CNBC.

The group prize went to a Standard Poodle that would go on to win reserve best in show, but Beskau is still thrilled. The non-sporting group has never been won by a Boston Terrier, she said.

“We are hoping to change that someday, and perhaps even go on and win Best in Show,” she said. “Denzel is a rock star and has put Hastings, Minn., in the records and history of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as the 2014 Boston Terrier Best of Breed statistics.”

She gave credit to the handlers, care and grooming staff and trainers for Denzel’s success.

“We could never have done it without our handlers and our team,” she said.

After the show

Westminster was the final show Denzel had with handler Doug Carlson, a Shakopee based show dog handler.

“We’ll be forever grateful to him,” Beskau said.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, Denzel went home with his new handler, Judy King of Arkansas. From there, he’ll be working on impressing judges in the southern U.S. and trying to become the nation’s No. 1 ranked Boston Terrier.

Beskau said Denzel will be in Arkansas for the next year, but should be returning to Hastings in early 2015.

Beskau also thanked all those who have supported and followed Denzel’s success.

“He does have a fan club. We would like to thank them for supporting him,” she said.

The Facebook page, “Denzel the Boston Terrier,” will continue to be updated with Denzel’s continued progress in the show ring.

And to cap it all off, Rio Gran is expecting to have a litter of Denzel puppies growing up in Hastings this summer.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
(651) 319-4501
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