With more than 100 Best in Shows under her collar, it’s no surprise that Rumor (aka GCH Lockenhaus’ Rumor Has It V Kenlyn) won the Best in Herding Group title at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last week. The German Shepherd lives with owner/handler Kent Boyles, handler Liz Oster, and their combined family, but she’s also stolen the hearts of co-owners Deborah Stern, Pamela Buckles, Patti Dukeman, and Pam McElheney, along with many viewers of Westminster.
But don’t let Rumor’s professional performances mislead you. She’s a class act, but she also loves playful games such as hide and seek, even right outside the show ring!
The Boyles-Oster family lives in Edgerton, Wisconsin, and also includes 8-year-old Daniel and his older sister, Maria; a Chinese Crested named Ex; and the other dogs in Boyles’ Kenlyn German Shepherds handling program. Their 22-acre property provides Rumor generous space to frolic with the kids.
One of Rumor’s favorite games is searching for everybody hiding in the woods. Her natural German Shepherd drive to herd her family adds passion to the game. “We hold her back while someone hides,” Boyles explains. “She keens in on a sound and runs off searching, then gives us an exuberant greeting when she finds us.”
At shows such as Westminster, Rumor certainly knows how to garner accolades, but she also regularly shows her soft, family-focused side, too. “Her big decision in our New York hotel room was whether to sleep with the adults or the kids,” Boyles says. As usual, Rumor made the only sensible choice for a herding breed developed to keep family together: She bounced back and forth between beds.
Daniel was celebrating his 8th birthday when Boyles and I spoke recently. The family had just returned from the show in New York. Ribbons were the farthest thing from Rumor’s mind. If weather permitted, Daniel was going to be heading outside with her for a wintery playtime. Rather than being covered in the Westminster spotlight, Rumor was likely about to be coated in mud.
“One of Rumor’s favorite pastimes is running with Daniel on his bike,” Boyles says. Rumor is an enthusiastic athlete, and she runs next to Boyles on his scooter or bike for about three miles daily.
“On show days, Rumor makes it clear that moving around a ring a few times doesn’t satisfy her love to exercise,” Boyles says.
If the weather and circumstances allow, right after a show Boyles takes Rumor out running. “I’m rather sure she gets the same happy ‘runners high’ that humans describe,” Boyles adds.
Both Rumor and Boyles enjoy mentoring other dogs, helping them build self-assurance and spirit.
“Rumor’s animation and energy are contagious,” Boyles says. Plus, her reliability facilitates Boyles riding his four-wheeler or scooter while running multiple dogs safely and effectively. “I can send Rumor out ahead, and she’ll pull up the other dogs,” Boyles says. “They respond to her charisma and follow her enthusiastic lead.”
“Rumor, like many show dogs, has been fortunate with exposure to such a wide world of activity, people, sights, sounds, and travel,” adds Stern, one of Rumor’s biggest fans in addition to being a co-owner. “Rumor’s an excellent canine citizen, comfortable with varied and changing circumstances.”
But even with Rumor’s socialization, she still maintains her breed’s natural drive to protect. “She’s agreeable with guests, but she’s still going to kick it into gear if someone comes uninvited into our house at night,” Boyles says. “And in our hotel rooms, she’ll sure let us know when housekeeping staff are approaching.”
On the road and at home, Rumor has spent her time almost 24/7 with family and friends. “The more she sees and experiences, the more her mind expands,” Stern says.
What’s next for Rumor and her continually developing mind, body, and spirit? “Some relaxing, maybe some herding, perhaps a litter of pups, and probably additional obedience work,” Boyles says.
And no doubt many more muddy playtimes with Daniel!
Read more about the Westminster Dog Show:
About the author: A historian and retired attorney, Lynn Hayner shares her life in Texas with (in no particular order!) a German Shepherd, a rescued cat, a gerbil named after a Lord of the Rings character, an Australian Shepherd, her husband, 2 grown children, 2 grandchildren, and a bully breed mix rescued from 2008’s Hurricane Ike.