Best in Show

By Hannah Wallace June 30, 2006

It's a dog's life for husband-and-wife Gary Kettring and Leslie Telford. Their hobby is breeding Great Danes, one of which just won best of breed at the prestigious 2006 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Two weekends a month, Kettring, a mediator, and Telford, a family lawyer, enjoy a break from their clients and shared office to show dogs. After emotionally stressful weeks of handling divorces, "This is something fun and different for us," Kettring says.

Their dog Creekside/Bayside Just Tina just won the Westminster Kennel Club award, and was the No. 4 Great Dane in the country last year. "When she's in the ring, people applaud for her, and she perks up and starts wagging her tail," Kettring says. When she's home from the shows, Tina enjoys three scoops of vanilla ice cream with her regular food in the morning, and in the evening likes 14 meatballs in her kibble.

With seven canines living in their smallish cottage in north Sarasota-four Great Danes and three cattle dogs-Kettring and Telford have to swap lunch hours for runs and feedings. (Occasionally, when all the dogs are home, passersby can see the pooches eagerly line up in the big picture window.)

"They're just like having other people or children in the house," Kettring says.

Telford has been breeding Great Danes for 16 years, and Kettring has been involved for five. While the actual shows don't bring in much supplemental income, the puppies sell for thousands of dollars. This is just a perk of something far more rewarding.

"They're quite gentle dogs, Great Danes. Most of them have a sense of humor you just don't expect," Kettring says. "You can't help but fall in love with them."

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