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Local Dogs and Handlers Represent in Westminster Dog Show

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A Winchester couple is part of a group travelling to compete in the big arena in New York City, but it's actually their four-legged companions who will be stars of the show.

"Ready Gigi, let's go," Katrina Luper commands a springy-stepping dog into a "down-and-back" trot.

Luper has been showing dogs with her cousin, Elissa Roberts, since they were young. Now, along with Katrina's husband Cameron, they're all checking off a dog show bucket list item.

"We call it the Super Bowl of dog shows," Luper says.

Four Plotthounds, a fairly new breed in the American Kennel Club, are all ranked in the top 15 in the country. They'll be the only representatives of their breed in the 2018 Westminster Dog Show.

Beatrix and sister Freya were bred by Missy Plauman out of Michigan. Gigi and Jet come from Harvard, Idaho's DW Plotts, owned by Darcy Zemp.

Katrina makes kissing noises to lead Beatrix into position to "stack" her, a rigid and posied stance that allows judges to check out the musculature and build of the dog.

Beatrix, aka Lightnin' in the Abyss, is currently the number one Plotthound of 2017. But this champion almost never was. Her mother was due to be put down for being aggressive before Michigan breeder Plauman seized the opportunity to turn a life around.

"Missy was crying on the phone because she couldn't believe she'd bred some of the top dogs out of a dog that wasn't even supposed to keep living," Katrina explains.

With her championship status, Beatrix is likely to represent Plotthounds, originally German boar hunting dogs, in the hound groups category. "Groups is what you see on tv along with Best in Show," Katrina says. But it could be any one of these four making a second televison appearance. If that dog wins group, they'll go on to compete for the top dog prize - Best in Show.

Katrina says, "Think of it like a sports bracket."

The Plotts are ready to represent their breed and our area. As for their human counterparts?

"Like I needed two more weeks to prepare. Not the dogs, me personally," Katrina laughs.

You can find a full schedule of where to watch the 2018 Westminster Dog Show here: http://www.westminsterkennelclub.org/plan-your-visit/tv-schedule/

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