When Larry Adams got his first pet Pembroke Welsh corgi in the late 1970s, he had no idea of the journey ahead. At a friend’s urging, he entered the pup (named Jones) in a dog show held at Washington University. “I’d never even been to a dog show before,” he recalls. “We stepped into the ring, and she won! It drew me in instantly.” Since then, the Maplewood resident has shown champion dogs around the world, built a strong reputation as a breeder and put his experience to good use as a judge. Earlier this month, he made the trip to NYC to judge herding breeds at the big one: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Adams, who currently works as a hairdresser at The Boulevard Hair Company in Webster Groves, has bred and shown Norwich terriers, Skye terriers and German shepherds, but he says his favorite breed remains the Pembroke Welsh corgi. “They are so sweet and loyal,” he explains. “They’re smart and athletic, and they make lovely family pets. They are big dogs in a small package.” In his dedication to preserving the breed, he has produced two of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America’s top sires. This means a record number of their offspring have become champions. “Having one dog in the top 10 is an accomplishment; I’m over the moon to have two,” he says.
To become a champion, a dog must win 15 points in competitions. Last year, Adams worked with a corgi named Albert, who managed to achieve the status in just seven shows. He bred the dog and now co-owns him with a family in Town and Country. “Albert is a natural, and he really responded to working with me,” he says. “It was a fun ride, and his family was thrilled. They made a little shrine for him featuring all of his ribbons and trophies.”
Adams became a judge in 1997, although he still enjoys competing. He is dedicated to judging each dog by established criteria, but he says picking a winner requires a personal touch. “It’s important that dogs meet the written standards of their breed from nose to tail and everywhere in between, but on the day of the competition, they also just have to sparkle,” he explains. “One time, I was judging a beautiful tricolored corgi named Paige, and when she was walking, I swear she looked at me and winked. I knew then that she was going to be my best of breed.”
With more than 20 years of experience finding the dogs that stand out, Adams was more than ready to take on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He described the experience as going to a fantasy land to see the cream of the crop of each breed. The hardest part of the judging gig? Keeping it a secret! “When you accept the invitation to judge at Westminster, you’re held in strictest confidence and can’t tell anyone for more than a year,” Adams says. “I was so excited and honored, but I had to keep it to myself until the official announcement was made last May.”