Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shingle Springs Aussie is the best


DOG HANDLER Megan Hof, left, 3-year-old Australian Shepherd Belle Starr, and owner Linda Buell at Woodstock Kennel in Shingle Springs. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

From page B2 | March 20, 2013 | Leave Comment

Belle Starr is a bitch and she has the trophies to prove it. The 3-year-old Australian Shepherd, “Wookstock’s Belle Starr Little Girl,” won best of breed at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Feb.11.

When she’s not on the competition circuit — which now takes up most of her time — Belle romps around with eight other Aussies at Woodstock Kennel in Shingle Springs, owned by breeder Linda Buell. This is her year and she’ll be gone a lot.

“She’s done well every year but she needed a little more maturity,” said Buell. “Now she’s got that. She’s the number one female in the U.S. this year and the win at Westminster is going to be a big push for her.”

Belle was chosen best of breed at the Westminster and represented her breed in the herding class. Megan Hof, professional handler from Citrus Heights, showed Belle who loves the limelight and applause.

“She is bomb-proof,” said Hof. “Never nervous — a train can go by and she won’t be affected at all — not even when the cameras zoom in on her.”

Belle’s excellent conformation, her love of performing and her effortless, floating stride have earned her award after award, beginning when she was only a puppy.

“We start training  and are already entering them to show at 2 to 4 months, just to get them used to it.,” said Buell.

In 2009, Belle took best of breed puppy five times, had numerous best of winners, winner’s bitch and best of breed awards in 2010 and took the United States Australian Shepherd Association/American Kennel Club Nationals as best of winners in 2011, along with many other bests.

In 2012 she won the award of excellence at the AKC Eukanuba Nationals and at the USASA/AKC National Specialty Show she earned an award of merit.

Buell has been breeding and showing Australian shepherds for 30 years, 18 of them at Woodstock Kennel, her home in Shingle Springs.

“I have always loved dogs growing up but my dad was allergic to them. I got my first dog at 14, a German shepherd, but when I found Aussies, that was it.”

Belle is just one of Woodstock’s winning Aussies who also compete in herding and agility.

Intelligent and mellow of temperament, Aussies were bred as stock dogs in the American West. They make good companions, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, disaster dogs and are known for their trainability and eagerness to please.

“Aussies are a people pleasing breed and bond well with their people,” said Buell.

Despite her many awards, Belle’s journey to the Westminster with professional handler Megan Hof, was fraught with obstacles.

“You can see her coat is now short,” said Buell, fluffing Belle’s shiny fur. “Aussies lose their long coat about four months after coming into their heat cycle and we were just lucky that she held onto it long enough for Westminster.” The coat will grow back in eight weeks, just in time for more competition.

Another problem was the blizzard that shut down New York City with 18 inches of snow. Friday flights before Westminster were cancelled and rescheduled to Saturday.

“Some of the handlers I know from Southern California weren’t able to get to New York until Sunday night,” said Hof. Hof and Belle caught their flight from San Francisco on Saturday, in plenty of time before the Monday competition. Belle, a registered service animal, was able to fly in the cabin.

Most hotels around Madison Square Garden, where the Westminster is held, are dog friendly said Hof.

“They even turned the Grand Ballroom at the Pennsylvania Hotel, into a dog park. We couldn’t go anywhere in all that snow, so we had an area to walk and do other things indoors.”

Hof, 28, has been handling Belle since 2011 and does both grooming and handling to get Belle ready for showtime.

“I’ve been showing dogs since I was 5,” said Hof.

She and Belle don’t need to spend time practicing for competition.

“Belle knows what she is supposed to do,” said Hof. “She is so eager, she just puts her head down and pulls the leash to get started.”

After her big year in competition, Belle will most likely have her first litter of puppies and then move into the world of agility competition.

“We haven’t been able to do agility with her because she is not at home long enough but she will be awesome at it,” said Buell.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | No comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .


    EDH Fire Dept. annexing Latrobe

    By Noel Stack | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

    Motorcycle fatality in Greenwood

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1

    Greenwood School being restored

    By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Cal Fire increasing staffing, hiring

    By Cal Fire | From Page: B1

    EID restricts watering days

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1, 13 Comments

    Lover’s Leap fall injures man

    By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A1

    Tea Party meeting April 17

    By Tea Party Patriots Of El Dorado Hills | From Page: A3, 62 Comments

    Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking May 1

    By El Dorado Hills Community Vision Coalition | From Page: A6

    Floating body not a body

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A7

    Old mill a goner

    By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A11, 18 Comments | Gallery



    Real estate lies

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 15 Comments

    A great big thanks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

    Murder? Suicide?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 8 Comments

    ‘Drive Clean’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

    Middle class getting poorer?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 54 Comments



    Outside with Charlie: Switch gear

    By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A8

    Ponderosa volleyball is a family affair

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Aussie team makes visit

    By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A8

    Griz have challenging day

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Roundup: April 15, 2014

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery



    At a glance: Take aim on fun

    By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

    Men to walk a mile in her shoes

    By Center For Violence-Free Relationships | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Runners stampede for Sugarloaf scholarships

    By El Dorado County Office of Education | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Team works to fight disease

    By Placerville Kiwanis | From Page: B3

    COOL School is accepting applications

    By Rescue Union | From Page: B4

    Band of Miwoks fund mission

    By Shingle Springs Band Of Miwok Indians | From Page: B12



    Crime Log: March 25-27

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

    Weather stats 4-15-14

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



    Numa Edward “Ed” Roberts

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    Ronald Russell Rohrer

    By Contributor | From Page: A2, 2 Comments


    Real Estate



    Horoscope, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Flying McCoys

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Working It Out

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A10


    By Contributor | From Page: A10

    Horoscope, Thursday, April 17, 2014

    By Contributor | From Page: A10