‘Lucky’ dog celebrates victory with Abrams students

‘Lucky’ dog celebrates victory with Abrams students

Susan Fuchs hugging the award-winning Brooklyn at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. 
(Photo by Rabbi Ira Budow)
Susan Fuchs hugging the award-winning Brooklyn at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. (Photo by Rabbi Ira Budow)

Facing seemingly insurmountable odds in February’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Brooklyn — a newbie show dog without professional handlers — surprised her owners, Ira Budow and Susan Fuchs of Yardley, Pa., by winning best of opposite sex in the non-sporting category, tantamount to “best female.” Budow, a rabbi, is director of Abrams Hebrew Academy, a pre-K-through-eighth-grade community school in Yardley, and Fuchs is a psychiatrist.

Perhaps Brooklyn was channeling the luck attributed to her ancient breed, Tibetan terriers from the Lost Valley of Tibet. “They were considered holy dogs, luck bringers,” Fuchs told NJJN. “If you sold them, you’d lose your luck.” Maintained as purebreds, Tibetan terriers were gifted to esteemed friends or to travelers to ensure a safe journey.

On Feb. 22, Abrams students celebrated Brooklyn’s victory, and learned some lessons about Jewish values from the unlikely winner’s owners.

The first piece of advice imparted to students, according to Fuchs, was to follow one’s dreams. Fuchs decided to enter Brooklyn at Westminster on the advice of a friend, despite a warning from Budow: “You know she’s not going to win.” So it came as “quite a shock,” Fuchs told NJJN, when the canine did just that, and the experience bore an important message that the couple shared with students: Impossible dreams can come true.

The second lesson was to have Jewish pride. At the dog show a Jewish woman approached Budow and said, “I’ve been here for 25 years, and I’ve never seen anyone wearing a kipah.” The take-home, Fuchs said, is to “be true to yourself and your heritage no matter where you are, and the world will adjust.”

Seeing Fuchs with a dog isn’t usual for Abrams students. For 13 years she brought Domino, a registered therapy dog, to the school every Friday. Her goal on these visits was “to help children overcome any fear and anxiety they might have with dogs.”

Like Domino, Brooklyn is also a therapy dog.

“When I do therapy, they are not there to sit and … [for the children to] pet the dog. They are there for a goal,” she said. For example, part of Fuchs’ treatment plan for a child struggling with issues of self-worth is to have the patient teach Brooklyn a trick (though one the dog is already familiarity with, to avoid disappointing the child).

So how did this family dog, with just a few shows under her collar, win at Westminster? “She moves like the wind and looks very elegant in the show ring,” said Fuchs, who added that Brooklyn is also spunky and animated. “When the judge looked at her, she stared him back in the face, and I think the judge liked that.”

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