Call it a total miracle, a long shot or a gift from God. Sharon Van Sinderen Lyon uses all three terms when she talks about bringing Whatcom County an unexpected championship at the World Series of dog shows.
Lyon still has a hard time believing that her 41/2-year-old Chinese Crested with the call name of Trinity won Best of Breed honors in competition with 37 others of her breed at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Show held Feb. 10 in New York City.
"It really was a miracle, a gift from God, to see our long shot win," said Lyon, who credits professional handler Sammie Lewis of Issaquah with bringing out the best in Trinity.
Lyon, 60, and a niece, Kerri Perret, co-own Trinity, whose legal name is Grand Ch. Daretobebare Flashy Threads. Lyon divides her time between Birch Bay and Palm Springs, Calif. Perret is a Bellingham resident.
Lyon's parents, Sid Van Sinderen and Jettie McLane Van Sinderen, were well-known educators for many years in Bellingham. Lyon returned to Whatcom County 13 years ago to care for her father.
Question: Sharon, what gave you the idea to acquire Trinity?
Answer: I've had a lifelong love of dogs, and in 2008 I searched for African wild dogs in Tanzania (as part of her job as a saleswoman for Africa Dream Safaris). The next year, when I saw a niece's Chinese Crested, I was inspired by my travels to have one, since my vivid imagination made them seem to resemble African wild dogs.
Q: When did you get Trinity?
A: I got Trinity soon after she was born Sept. 12, 2009, in Missouri. It was Kerri's idea that we breed (what is now several Chinese Cresteds they own between them).
Q: Was Trinity's rise to fame gradual?
A: Yes. In November 2012, in Las Vegas, Trinity won a second place, called select bitch, in national competition. Because of that, we were inspired to enter two competitions in May in Oklahoma City. Trinity squeaked in 20th and last in points (at a series of smaller shows) to qualify for the American Chinese Crested Club championships and, miracle of miracles, she won!
Then, the same day, she won the ACCC National Specialty show and, with her win at Westminster, she is the only Chinese Crested to win a Triple Crown.
Q: What's this about you not seeing Trinity's two titles in Oklahoma City?
A: I was worried that Trinity would spot me by "air scent" and maybe become distracted, so Kerri and I were in the lobby when Trinity competed.
Q: Were you in the lobby at Westminster?
A: No, I was sitting only about 15 feet away from Trinity and Sammie. No way I was going to miss it! I was still prepared to bolt out of my seat if I got the sign that I was "air scented." But it turned out it didn't matter. I had watched Trinity from close up at a competition in January in Palm Springs and she was not affected.
Q: What was your reaction to Trinity's win?
A: "Shocked" would not be accurate to describe me as I screamed with joy. I recognized we had a total miracle in Trinity.
What I appreciated was that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some people compete here for years and years and never win.
Q: Did you think Trinity had won even before the judges announced their decision?
A: I felt Trinity's performance was absolutely stellar. She could not have done better!
Q: What's next for Trinity after you breed her?
A: She is qualified to compete at the big show in England in 2015 and I'd love to do that. I would prefer to ride the wave with Trinity and see how far it goes, but God only knows.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.