Carolyn R. Wilson | Special for the Bristol Herald Courier
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. – Local dog lovers have yet another reason to spend part of their Thanksgiving day watching dogs compete in the popular annual National Dog Show.
This year, the region has a dog in the fight.
Rumor, a 19-month-old Biewer terrier owned by Debarah Billings of Blountville, participated in the 20th Annual Expo at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, held Saturday and Sunday. It will air on NBC from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, following the 2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
According to Billings, Rumor won the Best of Breed award and will represent all of the Toy Group’s Biewer terriers and on television during the Thanksgiving telecast.
The Biewer terrier (pronounced “beaver”) is the new breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, which earlier this year authorized it to participate in all dog shows. It is one of four new breeds introduced at the show.
Rumor, whose registered name is Grand Champion Bronze “Windsong’s Somethin’ To Talk About”, competed against more than a dozen entries to the show.
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According to Billings, his dog was the first American-bred AKC Champion and Grand Champion. She placed Best of Opposite Sex at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Tarrytown, New York.
Additionally, the dog is the No. 1 Biewer Terrier All Breed in the country. She has won nine group placements and is the only Biewer terrier to have won the Toy group.
She won Best of Breed at the prestigious Morris & Essex Dog Kennel Club Show which is held every five years. She has completed her Puppy Class Champion title.
Small and elegant
After Billings, 66, retired in 2008, she began looking for a puppy to help pass the time, especially while her truck driver husband was on the road during the week.
Little did she know that her interest in dogs would lead her to a new career as a dog breeder and exhibitor of Biewer terriers.
When Billings began her search for a dog, she came across the Biewer terrier, a small, elegant, tricolor dog. She knew she had to have one. She messaged breeders who put her name on waiting lists.
According to her, the breed, which resembles a Yorkshire terrier, originated in Germany. He is known for his soft, silky coat and playful disposition.
At the time of his research, the breed was considered rare because it had not yet been accepted by the AKC and United Kennel Club (UKC) show standards.
Her first puppy, Landie, was purchased from the co-founder of the Biewer Terrier Club of America in Alabama, who encouraged Billings to consider breeding and exhibiting the breed.
After a few lessons at the Kingsport Kennel Club, Billings entered his first dog show in 2009.
“I had never even been to a dog show,” she said.
“It was overwhelming. There were at least 500 dogs competing. I found out later that it was considered a small show, but to me it was huge.
Landie won all four rare breed shows, competing with 12 other dogs in the category.
“I was amazed that after four little training lessons, Landie lifted his cock with confidence. I was shocked. I thought it shouldn’t be that hard. I think I can do it,” said laughed Billings.
With a taste of success, she bought two more Biewer puppies. This time, she attended seminars in Florida hosted by industry experts to help her hone her handling and training skills.
“When I do something, I like doing it,” Billings said.
She established a kennel on her property named Windsong, raised a litter of puppies and started a breeding program, all within the same year. The kennel, which currently holds 12 of his dogs, is like a hotel, in a way. It includes a dog grooming area, as well as a washer and dryer, fridge and dishwasher, all used for dog grooming.
Billings quickly discovered that his new hobby requires a lot of money, travel and time.
When her husband retired, they bought an RV, traveling to as many as three shows over the course of a weekend in locations from Florida to Michigan and Missouri.
She flew to Seattle, Washington, four times in 2013 just to compete in dog shows.
Billings is now a board member of the Biewer Terrier Club of America – the same club she found while researching a puppy on the internet. She will take over as club president in January.
She will continue to participate in dog shows but admitted that her role as president will require a lot of her time.
Billings said she was thrilled to represent the region and the breed.
The dog breeder, who owns three of the top five Biewer terriers in the country, has been invited to take part in the upcoming Westminister Kennel Club dog show in January.
“And, think about it, I was just looking for a little puppy when I retired. Who would have thought that I would have gone this far? she asked.
Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at [email protected]