By LILLY OWENS
Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend. However, Mrs. Suzette Boehms’s “best friend” is a cut above the average. Her dog, Sebec, is quite a show dog. In fact, he is competing in the American Kennel Club’s National Championships this week!
Boehms, a science teacher at HCHS, said she wasn’t looking to get into the show dog community when she found Sebec, who is named after a lake in Maine that is special to Boehms.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be doing this!” she said with a laugh. She had recently lost another dog of the same breed, a Cane (pronounced Cah-nay) Corso, that was her companion for 11 years. She had fallen in love with the rare breed that originated in Italy, and her family searched for a new pup that could help fill the void.
When they found Sebec at a breeder in Colorado, Boehms said they still never intended to end up in the show arena.
“We got him with the intention of him being a farm dog, a working dog and companion,” she said. Their contract with the breeder stipulated that Sebec had to be entered in a number of dog shows, and Boehms said they intended to fulfill that commitment and let that be it.
But, she said, they soon noticed some qualities in him that made them think he might be a good fit for a show dog as well. In October 2016, Sebec took a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test to see if he had potential to become a show dog, which he did. Soon after, in just his first show, Sebec placed 2nd in Best Male and beat the champion in Best of Breed.
From that day on, Boehms said, “I was hooked!” Sebec has been in 30 different shows. Out of those 30, he has been named Best Of Breed Cane Corso 23 times. Boehms said she has been learning the ropes as a handler, and they also have a professional handler that works with Sebec at some shows.
Sebec earned enough points on the show circuit to be eligible for the AKC National Championships being held in Orlando this week. Sebec will be shown several times throughout the week.
So is Sebec a show dog, or is he a farm dog?
“He’s both!” Boehms said. “Some of these handlers and owners would be horrified to see us when we get home from a dog show and Sebec runs out into the horse pen and gets dirty or takes a swim in Lick Creek,” she says. “I think it makes him a better show dog because he’s happy when he gets to do what he was born to do, and that’s to be a working farm dog.”
But Sebec isn’t Boehms’s only pup. She now has 3 Cane Corsos: Sebec, who is 2 years old; Nelly, who is 5 months old; and Sunny, her newest addition, who is just 9 weeks old. Sunny was even a “student” here at HCHS for 2 weeks! She needed to be monitored after having some surgery, and so she and her crate took up residence in a corner of Mrs. Boehms’s room.
Boehms said that even though Cane Corsos are great show dogs, they’re even better companions. “They’re super sensitive and always protect what’s theirs,” she said. “They’re also smart, perceptive, and great with kids.” She also said that they are not an easy breed to raise: “You have to be the boss every day because they are so smart,” she said. Not to mention, Cane Corsos are just beautiful dogs.
Even though Sebec is an award-winning show dog, he has many abilities other than looking pretty. He is also a service dog who helps Boehms with her anxiety and, at 150 pounds, is big and strong enough to help her get up if she falls. However, he not only helps Boehms, but he is also compassionate toward others and somehow has the ability to sense when someone needs to be cheered up or helped. “He has something special,” she says. “I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s something. He just knows how to connect with people, and I think that’s what separates him from the pack.” She thinks for a moment, then smiles again. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime dog.”
According to the AKC website, The AKC National Championship evening competition (Dec. 16 & 17) will be streamed live, beginning at 5 p.m. each night on the AKC website, as well as on Royal Canin’s website. You can watch the championships on TV on New Year’s Day beginning at 6 p.m. on Animal Planet.
EDITOR’S NOTE: According to a post on Mrs. Boehms’s Facebook page, Sebec won the Best of Breed in the Owner/Handler division on Wednesday, and will be shown in several other groups and divisions throughout the rest of the week.
Hickmanite staffers Carlin Cochran, Kayla Dunford, and Chenya O’Hara also contributed to this story.