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D.C. Dog Has His Day

Wishbone Took Top Breed Honors at Westminster

Washington, D.C., may be filled with tales of unlikely heroes, but if you’re looking for a true story of the triumph of an underdog, look no further than Wishbone. The furry, four-legged critter recently wowed D.C. dog enthusiasts by taking home the Best of Breed prize at February’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The handler responsible for leading Wishbone to glory is Jodi Longmire. An Oklahoma native, Longmire moved to D.C. more than a decade ago and still lives in a suburb of Annapolis because, she said, “I just loved it out here so I never went home.”

For the past 10 years, Longmire has been employed at Chateau-Animaux, a Capitol Hill pet shop specializing in grooming man’s best friend.

Friend and Chateau-Animaux co-worker Lynne Schlimm noted that Longmire has made a name for herself among dog lovers in and around Washington. [IMGCAP(1)]

“She’s been around Capitol Hill for so long that there are a lot of people who know her and feel connected to her,” Schlimm said of Longmire.

When it comes to her love of dog handling, Longmire, married for seven years to husband Tim and mother to 3-year-old Charlie, has had to strike a balance, and admitted “I kind of juggle everything — still showing dogs and still grooming.”

Longmire and fellow dog show enthusiast Casey Fletcher of State College, Pa., acquired Wishbone, a French bulldog who has brought Longmire her most recent fame, as a puppy. After several failed attempts at selling the dog, the friends decided owning Wishbone was simply their destiny.

“Every sale fell through. Nobody wanted him,” Longmire explained. “They didn’t like his color, they thought he was too old … there was always some excuse. So Wishbone was always meant to be with us somehow.”

Fletcher and Longmire soon began traveling with Wishbone, and, as Fletcher noted, Longmire seemed to bond immediately with the Frenchie.

“She knows the dog as well as I do,” Fletcher said. “She knows all his little quirks and likes and dislikes. … They just are sort of a natural fit together.”

Still, it wasn’t until the dog was introduced to the show circuit that those who originally turned down the opportunity to own Wishbone realized his true worth.

“We started showing him and he won immediately — he never lost a show,” Longmire said. “And then people wanted to buy him, but in the meantime they forgot that we’d gotten attached to this dog.”

Fletcher is now the owner of Wishbone despite the fact that, as Longmire noted, the dog has had “some ridiculous offers on him, but they don’t understand that he’s first and foremost somebody’s pet now.”

Believe it or not, Longmire, who has made appearances at the World Dog Shows in Milan, Amsterdam, and England and at 26 Westminster competitions, hadn’t planned on attending this year’s competition due to a fear of disappointment.

“We almost didn’t even go to Westminster this year,” Longmire said. “We thought our chances were slim to none. We were just certain we were not going to win anything.”

Besides his latest Best of Breed Trophy, Wishbone, who turned 2 in December, also has another title worth boasting — proud father.

Longmire has had Wishbone bred three times and boasted, “I have a champion out of him already. I have a little boy named Moses that looks identical to him.”

If you’re thinking you might want to acquire your very own Wishbone Jr., know that the price is steep — Longmire said Frenchie puppies can retail for as much as $3,000.

With this year’s Westminster competition behind them, Wishbone and Longmire will continue to travel to shows. This month, the pair will travel to a competition in Louisville, Ky., before competing in two shows in New Jersey.

Schlimm admires Longmire’s tireless dedication to the show circuit and believes that “Jodi is probably one of the finest handlers in the business … I think she’s a real pro and I think she’s probably one of the top people in the industry.”

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