352 – Scott Sommer: Work Hard and Never Stop Trying | Pure Dog Talk
Scott Sommer: Work Hard and Never Stop Trying
Scott Sommer, one of only a handful of people to show multiple dogs to Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club, offers his best advice for success.
Both JR, the Bichon Frise and Stump, the Sussex Spaniel were surprise, dark horse winners at the Garden in their respective years. JR won under Dorothy MacDonald, defeating Mick, the incomparable Kerry Blue Terrier, handled by Bill McFadden, in a match up of Titans in the dog world. Stump was the oldest dog to win the coveted award. He came out of retirement to celebrate surviving a nearly tragic illness, winning under Sari Tietjen, the roar of the Madison Square Garden crowd ringing in Sommer’s ears.
Sommer’s family bred smooth fox terriers. In fact, his mother sold legendary dog man Bobby Fisher his first show dog. Sommer showed his first dog at five years old and was hooked.
He later apprenticed for Bob and Jane Forsyth. On his 16th birthday, Sommer moved to Houston and went to work for Michael Kemp.
His best advice? “Work hard and never stop trying. This is not something you can learn overnight. Work for it and you will get rewarded.”
“I think the initial steps are taking care of the dogs, cleaning them, feeding them, from there go forward,” Sommer said.
JR was the Number One ranked dog in country in 2001. But Sommer said he’d never shown the dog to MacDonald before that Best in Show lineup.
“How she decided between JR & Mick I’ll never know,” Sommer said. “I fully expected the Kerry to win. When she said ‘Bichon,’ I just ran…
“JR was a great show dog. He just never let down. It could be hot, cold, wet, it didn’t matter. He was so dependable. When you show a dog at that level that is so important,” Sommer added.
Both JR and Stump lived out their lives with Sommer. They were inseparable best friends and died a week apart.
Sommer’s best recommendations for the Garden include making sure large breed dogs have boots so the salt on the streets doesn’t hurt their feet.
“Go in with all the confidence in the world, hope and pray, and do the best job you can,” Sommer said. “If (the judge) points at you, RUN!”
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