TARRYTOWN, NY – She’s a royal who behaves like a commoner, a Tom Brady who could be mistaken for a special team. Patricia Trotter will be spending this weekend on the east bank of the Hudson River, at the epicenter of the nation’s second longest sporting event, and wants all of the attention to be focused on the event, not her record breaking 85 years old. – crash yourself.
“The Westminster Dog Show is the Super Bowl and the World Series (wrapped up),” Trotter told USA TODAY. “There are hundreds and hundreds of dog shows, but there is only one Westminster.”
The 145th edition of Westminster will begin Friday morning and conclude Sunday evening, when Trotter, a longtime history professor at Carmel College, Calif., Judges the Best In Show competition, the most prestigious concert of judges in the dog. show the kingdom. For the first time since its debut in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club showcase event will not take place at Madison Square Garden, moving 25 miles north of Lyndhurst, a historic riverside mansion in the village of Tarrytown – a change of venue WKC officials made to hold the show outside. Large white tents now dot the verdant grounds, as do over 2,500 canine competitors, including four new breeds. But there won’t be any fans, vendors, or the hubbub of downtown Manhattan – not until the show returns to the Garden in 2022, in the event of a pandemic.
“It’s going to be weird,” Trotter said, with a chuckle.
Pat Trotter may be in her 80s, but she looks, talks and acts like she’s in her middle age. She chronicles in detail her decades as a football fan (she saw Johnny Unitas, Eddie LeBaron and Joe Montana in person and vividly remembers watching the 1958 Giants-Colts Championship game with her father), and her teenage foray into journalism, writing aloud. school sports stories for a local newspaper in the Tidewater area of Virginia, where she grew up. For decades she was an avid cross-country runner and is now a cross-country walker, always with a four-legged companion.
She is not against sharing the secret of her youth.
“I think having dogs in your life keeps you going as you get older,” she said.
Trotter fell in love with his first dog, a mixed breed named Queenie, which was given to her by her parents when she was in fifth grade. Soon she was volunteering in kennels, walking puppies, showing cocker spaniels, spending every moment she could spare with dogs. One day she saw adorable dogs in a pen owned by a local man. They had a sturdy body, a friendly temperament, with a lush silvery gray coat and a tightly curled tail.
“They are bear hunters,” said the owner, who was actually a bear hunter.
The dogs were Norwegian Elkhounds and the girl had fallen in love. She showed her first Elkhound, Candy, at the Tidewater Dog Show in 1950, and bred and recorded her first litter a year later. Trotter made his Westminster debut in 1961 and hardly ever left, becoming as much of a staple as the WKC logo pointer. She won Best in Breed in 1969 and Best in Group a year later, the first of an unprecedented 11 Group victories, the proverbial record that will never be broken.
David Haddock, the co-chair of the Westminster Dog Show, estimates that 350,000 dog handlers have made dogs a part of the history of the event. None have managed to achieve what Trotter has, a feat made even more remarkable because Trotter is not, and never has been, a professional breeder or manager (although she is married to one.)
“Pat is an icon – a living legend,” Haddock said. “For most people, winning Westminster once is the (climax) of a lifetime. She embodies what we all hope to accomplish. I couldn’t carry Pat’s bags on a good day, and yet she treats me like an equal, the same way she treats everyone in the sport.
It turns out that Trotter was just as much of a luminary in the Carmel Middle School classroom for 35 years. She loved teaching colonial history, and not just because George Washington was “one of the first great dog breeders in our country.” She taught students her compatriot from Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, Enlightenment thinkers and the early stages of the concept of democracy.
One of his students was Jimmy Panetta, now a Democratic congressman from Carmel Valley, California.
“Madame. Trotter was an amazing teacher who had a lasting impact on many Carmelite students, including me and my two older brothers,” Panetta told USA TODAY via email. to teach us civic education and the cornerstones of our democracy, including how necessary it was to speak out in the classroom and speak out in our community. Most of the lessons she taught, I uses today as a member of Congress.
Panetta joked that having to deal with unruly eighth graders all these years probably greatly encouraged Trotter’s ability to judge the behavior and character of various dog breeds. All Trotter knows is that a virtual life as a purebred dog lover and owner, breeder and master has brought her to a rarefied place in her sport this weekend, and she is. deeply honored.
“I guess you could say it was a calling for me, and the calling started with my half-breed, Queenie,” Trotter said.