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What to watch for at the 2019 Westminster Kennel Club dog show

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NEW YORK – The 143rd Westminster Kennel Club dog show begins judging Monday morning, with Pyrenean shepherds, Pembroke Welsh corgis and pugs among the early arrivals.

More than 2,800 dogs are coming in 203 breeds and varieties. Judge Peter J. Green is expected to make his pick for best in show Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, right around 11 p.m.

Before we get there, what else to watch:

WILL MY POOCH EVER WIN THIS PAGEANT?

Anybody who owns a golden retriever or Lab or Chihuahua is absolutely sure the pet that curls up with them on the couch is the greatest dog in the world. No doubt about that. OK, then why are they, along with popular dachshunds and Dalmatians, always in the Westminster doghouse?

Total wins: zero. Underdogs, indeed.

Rather than any of the 57 goldens entered this year, the best in show bowl is more likely to wind up with a wired wire fox terrier or a perfectly primped poodle.

Goldens and Labs, people call them “honest” dogs – what you see is what you get. Too common, maybe. Easier to cut a champion from a pile of hair, some say.

But doggone it, no fair!

A FASHION FAUX PAW

While dogs stroll at the Garden, models will strut the catwalk – it’s Fashion Week in the city. And whether showing on the green carpet or the runway, it’s important to dress for success.

For savvy handlers in the ring, that means no flowing silk or flyaway fringe or sparkly outfits that could distract from the dogs. Leave those ensembles for the fashionistas down the street.

Michelle Scott has twice won best in show at Westminster, guiding a Newfoundland and a German shorthaired pointer. Her couture always complements a dog’s coat.

As for trying a supermodel’s look in the show ring?

“Oh, they’re all so beautiful,” Scott said. “But those high heels and short, little outfits, I don’t think that would work.”

THE BIG DOG

Whiskey the whippet won the National Dog Show televised on Thanksgiving Day and the AKC event shown on New Year’s Day. At 3, he already knows how to handle all distractions of being in New York, having done well in two previous trips to Westminster.

Whippets are incredibly fast, but Whiskey’s path includes a speed bump – littermate and sister Bourbon is a contender, too.

Crowd-pleasing Biggie the pug is back after drawing a big cheer at the Garden last year. Grant the black cocker spaniel is the nation’s top-ranked show dog and Billy the Lhasa apso comes from Hawaii, where he surfs with his owner.

Flynn the bichon frise won last year and is now retired.

YANKEE (GOLDEN)DOODLE

In the city where the Bronx Bombers rule the diamond, a bunch of Bronx bowsers have taken their swings in the Westminster ring. Newly minted Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina sent his Irish setter while playing for the Yankees, famed slugger Lou Gehrig brought his German shepherd and current team president Randy Levine entered his yellow Lab several years ago.

“He’s like Derek Jeter. Very calm,” Levine said of his pet, Mitch.

Makes sense, this link between the national pastime and pooches. Baseball starts up this week, too, with spring training workouts – so along with pitchers and catchers, we’ll have pinschers and cockers.



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81-year-old tap dancing legend hosts master class in Calgary

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks


Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:00PM EST

Brenda Bufalino may not be a household name, but in the world of tap dancing she is an icon.

Recognized for her mastery of rhythmic dance, the 81-year-old has performed and taught internationally for over 25 years. This weekend, she will share her love of tapping with young dancers at Calgary’s Rhythm Body and Soul Festival.

“It’s my job to teach them what they are doing,” Bufalino said of her master class being offered at the event. “Not what I’m doing, but what they’re doing.”

Tap dancing has been part of Bufalino’s life since she started dancing in a small New England town at the age of five. By the time she was 17, she had moved to New York City where her career as a soloist and choreographer took off. She later founded the American Tap Dance Orchestra.

She also taught routines to Tony Award winners Tommy Tune and Gregory Hines, who called Bufalino one of the greatest female dancers that ever lived.

“They’re such wonderful dancers. It was such a treat,” Bufalino said of her work with Tune and Hines.

Though tap dancing may not seem like a mainstream form of dance, Bufalino said the art of tap isn’t going anywhere, describing it as an experience for the body and mind.

“It’s a total experience,” she said.

Calgary’s Rhythm and Soul Festival runs from February 15 through 17.



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Gucci to step up diversity hiring after ‘blackface’ uproar

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NEW YORK — Italian fashion designer Gucci is announcing a major push to step up its diversity hiring following an uproar over an $890 sweater that resembled blackface.

The company also says it will hire a global director for diversity and inclusion, a newly created role. Gucci also is promising to launch a scholarship program to cultivate diverse design talent.

The announcement Friday came after Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri met in New York City’s Harlem neighbourhood with Dapper Dan, a well-known African-American designer, and other community members to hear their perspectives.

Bizzarri says Gucci has spent the past days conducting a “thorough review of the circumstances that led to this.”



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Edmonton man surprises girlfriend with billboard proposal

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Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, February 14, 2019 5:32PM EST

EDMONTON — Laurie Moring had an inkling something was up by the time she and her boyfriend were on their way to a Valentine’s Day lunch.

Her suspicions grew stronger when Mike Dagenais unexpectedly turned off a busy Edmonton thoroughfare to where news cameras were waiting.

Just ahead was a digital billboard emblazoned with Moring’s face and the message: “Laurie M. I adore you. You’re my best friend. And my true soulmate. Will you MARRY me? – Mike D.”

The billboard, which also included a link to Dagenais’s photography business, had been there a few days. Moring hadn’t seen it, and she hadn’t come across any mention of it on the news or social media.

But colleagues were dropping cryptic remarks.

“My co-workers have been very curious about how I’ve been lately and how my drive to work was,” Moring, 43, said Thursday.

“I knew something was going on, but I didn’t really know what. This was a huge shock. It was a good shock, a good surprise.”

And the answer?

“I said yes, of course.”

Dagenais and Moring got together more than three years ago after he inherited a rare antique chest and went to get it insured. Moring was at the counter.

“No word of a lie — the moment I walked in and I saw her, it was like she had this white aura, this white glow of goodness about her and I just couldn’t help but notice her,” said Dagenais, who is 55.

About a month later, he was still thinking about her and made a wish while sitting on his back porch. Within days he got a handwritten card from Moring through her work, so he used that as an excuse to get in touch again.

For their first date, they went for a walk in a park.

“It was freezing cold and we can’t remember what the conversations were about,” said Dagenais. “But we both remember the turnaround point when we shared a nice kiss and I steamed up her glasses — twice.”

Dagenais said he originally wanted to propose last summer, but his dad’s health was declining and he passed away soon after. Dagenais was hoping to propose to Moring under the billboard earlier this week, but she had a migraine.

He chose a billboard proposal because it combined his two loves: Laurie and photography, which he’s pursuing more these days because his regular work in the oilpatch has slowed down.

A painted billboard was beyond his budget at $3,000, so he went for the digital one at about $450.

“I was pretty sure she would say yes, but you never know until you put it out there. And I really put it out there this time — oh, my Lord.”

The couple is hoping to get married this summer on Vancouver Island, where they have family. Moring said she’d like something small on a beach or in a park.



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