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Worthington woman's dogs compete in Westminster Kennel Club show

Stacy Einck and her kennel had five dogs represented at this year's competition.

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One of the dogs bred by Worthington native Stacy Einick, who competed in the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
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WORTHINGTON — German Pointers, American Shepherds, and Wire Fox Terriers are just some of the breeds that compete in the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show — and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, like those owned by Worthington native Stacy Einck.

For the 2022 competition, Einck and five show dogs traveled to New York to compete in the multi-day event, starting June 21.

One of Einck’s dogs, Kori — or, Coopers Little Red Corvette, as she’s known by her show name — was awarded Best Female Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in the Best of Breed competition.

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Braedly Cooper, 15, competed with show dog Kori during the 2022 Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show.
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Kori was shown by 15-year-old handler, Braedy Cooper, whom Einck has mentored since he was eight. The pair also competed in the junior handling competition and made it down to the final cut.

Einck’s two other Tollers were first and second in their breed in the USA for 2021, and both of her Border Collies received awards of merit at this year’s Westminster show.

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“It was very exciting,” Einck said. “These are all dogs I either co-own or bred and sold to other owners around the country.”

With over two decades of experience, Einck is no stranger to dog competitions. She spent 18 years working at a professional dog show kennel in Virginia, before moving back to Worthington in 2018 to be closer to family. Then, she started up her own kennel, called Avatar — a name she inherited from her mentor.

While Einck has competed in years prior at Westminster with her former kennel, this year marked Avatar’s time at the dog show, which requires an invitation to compete.

“Not just anyone can go,” Einck shared. “You have to be ranked in the country within the year prior.”

In order to achieve that ranking, Einck and her dogs traveled to shows in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri, winning enough certifications to receive an invitation to the second-longest continually held sporting event in America.

Along with the conformation competition for purebred dogs, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show also includes championship competitions in agility and obedience. With nearly 3,000 dogs and over 200 breeds participating every year, Westminster is also the longest nationally-televised live dog show.

“There’s a lot of history, a lot of tradition,” Einck said.

She has her own long history with the sport, starting in 1997, after leaving Worthington to work part-time at a professional show kennel while studying pre-vet. She attended her first dog show with that kennel in Atlanta, Georgia, and has continued on ever since.

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Along with camaraderie and history, understanding the genetics and structure that went into the breeding of show dogs was a major draw for Einck.

“Looking at pedigrees and looking at genetics and seeing how I could make a dog better, as far as genetics, temperament, structure movement — I've always kind of been fascinated with that,” she said. “And by putting pedigrees together and studying the pedigrees you can make an animal how you imagined it to be.”

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Border Collie Fiona received an award of merit during the 2022 Westminster Kennel competition.

Though she has helped other dog breeders, Einck primarily deals with Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and Border Collies. She plans her litters years in advance, with the intention of creating dogs that can best do the job intended by their breed. For her collies, that means maximizing their herding capabilities or looking for genetic markers that will add to a toller’s ability to swim and hunt.

“They’re not just pretty dogs,” Einck said, noting that many of her dogs compete in skills competitions, as well as shows. “I like to have dogs that can do what they were bred to do. Whether hunting for the Tollers or herding for the Border Collies. In my eyes, they should be able to do both.”

The socialization her show dogs go through also makes them great candidates for therapy. They’re used with little kids and older adults alike, and for those that have become licensed therapy dogs, Einck takes them to hospitals, schools and domestic shelters.

“Anywhere they’re needed, they can go. They’re very versatile dogs.” Einck said. “And I like to give back.”

It goes back to genetics, Einck notes. While movement and structure are important parts of looking at a pedigree, having a mentally sound line of dogs is just as important for making that transition into therapy work, and it’s another thing Einck takes into account when breeding.

Her show dog litters usually have every puppy spoken for in advance, and Einck has sent puppies far and wide. She’s had people from England, Iceland, Italy, and Texas come to her home in Worthington to pick up puppies.

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“It’s hard to keep track because they go everywhere,” Einck said, “but I’m really proud of that. I’ve had a lot of success with my puppies.”

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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