By David Ertischek ’01
Emerson College alums win Oscars, Tonys, and Pulitzers, but Best in Show at the National Dog Show? Kara Gordon ’87 is most likely the only Lion to have a pup win that prestigious honor.
The Sigma Pi Theta sister has a mass communications degree in television production, and is a chief compliance officer in the oil and gas industry. So how in the howling hound did she end up in the world of competitive dog showing? Yet along with her bulldog Thor, who licked the competition to defeat more than 2,000 canines in the November competition.
“I always loved animals, especially bulldogs,” said Gordon, who lives in Conroe, Texas. “I got my first bulldog in 2001. It was a rescue, and I got involved with rescuing, and did that for 10 years with bulldogs.”
Through her rescue work she organized fundraisers at dog shows, and at the time she was adopting the old bulldogs – the ones no one wanted, who needed homes and love.
After losing three elderly bulldogs in one year, she was offered a puppy by a friend who was breeding bulldogs. But she was hesitant to take a puppy because puppies can easily find homes. Said Gordon, “I didn’t want a dog who didn’t need me.”
That dog, Bentley, became an “accidental show dog,” as he just won by walking into the ring. Hey, some dogs got it, and some dogs don’t. Henceforth Gordon was bit by the dog show bug.
Bentley died in 2018, but before his passing, he got to “paws-down” his knowledge of the dog show world to Thor. Or his formal name: GCHG (Grand Champion Gold) Diamond Gold Majesu Pisko Bulls. He got his Marvel-ous street name because his entire litter was named after superheroes, said Gordon. The Pisko part is because Thor is from Peru, and his handler, Eduardo Paris, is from Brazil. Thanks to being raised multiculturally, Thor understands four languages – English, Spanish, Portuguese, and of course, dog.
Thor’s language capabilities show that he is a very intelligent dog – a quality that helps him in the fickle world of dog showing. He’s netted 44 nonsporting wins in 2019, including eight best in shows. He’s won 25 best in specialty shows put on by bulldog organizations. Due to being judged by bulldog specialists, those competitions are often tougher than the huge ones like the National Dog Show and the illustrious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February, which Thor will compete in.
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Could not be more excited… a Happy Thanksgiving indeed! Congrats to my brother in breed Thor on a well deserved win at The National Dog Show! #bulldogsrule #nationaldogshow #happythanksgivingday #englishbulldog #thorthebulldog #eduardoparis #gchgdiamondgoldmajesupisobulls #bestinshow
“He’s really charismatic. He draws attention,” said Gordon. “The whole thing is a beauty contest at AKC (Animal Kennel Club) shows. The idea is to find the dog that matches the standard created for the breed. A bulldog is supposed to have a particular gait. Low to the ground, just how they’re built. Thor… when he moves… he walks like he’s on air.”
And when you’re competing against the poodles, with their stereotypically coiffed hair nose-to-the-sky attitude, you need panache.
“Thor has the showmanship. He’s got a great personality and really responds to the audience. When the audience claps, he lifts his head and prances a bit more,” said Gordon.
To celebrate his National Dog Show victory, Thor received a filet, and there was a little party for him. Filet or no filet, party or no party, he’s rather happy with everything, said Gordon.
And what does a National Dog Show champion do when he’s not touring the pageantry circuit?
“He relaxes and wakes up when he wants to. He eats breakfast, goes outside, plays a lot with our other dogs,” said Gordon, adding that Thor’s best friend is a 2-year-old Chihuahua. “He loves our Chihuahuas. He’s a very strong dog. A Chihuahua is probably five or six pounds and he’s 65 pounds and all muscle. He’s very gentle and he understands the limits of a Chihuahua.”
When not at home, Thor is eager to get back on the road. “If you pack a suitcase for Thor he tries to get inside and just wants to go,” said Gordon.
But the cycle of a dog show career isn’t long. Judges don’t want to see the same face over and over, even if it’s as beautiful as Thor’s.
“He’ll have a stud career,” said Gordon, who after years of working in the dog rescue world is cognizant of bringing more dogs into the world. She will only work with ethical breeders. “Although Thor would probably want to have a stud career every day and all year.”