Whiskey the whippet wins Best of Show at AKC National Championship, with his handler (and owner and breeder) Justin C. Smithey in Orlando. Smithey lives and raises dogs in Sugar Valley, in North Georgia. CONTRIBUTED: JUSTIC C. SMITHEY

Whiskey the whippet: Georgia dog wins big

How about this dog?

Whiskey the whippet, bred, owned and handled by Georgia resident Justin C. Smithey, has gone far and fast, as whippets are wont to do.

Not only was the 35-pound ball of energy voted Best in Show  at the National Dog Show in November, he won Best in Show in December at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin, in Orlando, Fla.

In November’s contest, which takes places in Philadelphia,  Whiskey beat more than 2,000 dogs from 192 breeds. In December he bested the biggest field in the dog show world, outpacing more than 5,000 entries in the Orlando contest.

“That’s the largest show a whippet has ever won since the AKC began keeping records,” said a proud Smithey, who lives in Sugar Valley, up near Resaca.

Smithey, 35, breeds, boards and shows dogs all over the world, for himself and for clients, but Whiskey, and his sister Bourbon, have an inside track. They get to stay in the master’s suite, and sleep on his bed.

Bourbon has also triumphed at national competitions, making the brother and sister an unusual pair of littermates. (Whiskey was scheduled to be on Good Morning America this week, but sister Bourbon planned to compete elsewhere and couldn’t make the date.)  

Smithey drives to competitions, and put 60,000 miles on his Ford Transit high-roofed cargo van this year. Whiskey travels with him, in a crash-proof crate with an orthopedic mattress.

Whiskey tolerates the driving but enjoys the shows, said Smithey. “His personality -- in addition to his good looks -- have helped him,” said Smithey. “He’s a very relaxed, easy dog, he knows when to rest whenever we’re not showing.”

But when the lights come on, the three-year-old is ready. “I can ask him to look alert and he will snap right back into it.”

It can be expensive to show dogs, but this season Whiskey has earned his keep. The prize for Best in Show at the AKC competition is $50,000; Whiskey won another $16,000 in other categories.

Also known as GCHP CH Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey, Whiskey is co-owned by Dr. Ken Latimer, professor emeritus of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia.

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