By Luke Hegdal
HERMISTON America loves underdogs, and America loves winners. Champion Treasure's Four Wheel Drive, a.k.a. Trucker is both.
The 4-year-old pug dog, owned by Jodi Sorensen of Hermiston, has already earned his championship title in regional dog shows.
"Trucker got his championship in just five months," Sorensen said. "That's pretty fast."
Now the pair have been invited to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held this weekend.
The Westminster show was founded in New York in 1877 by a group of men who wanted to show their hunting dogs primarily setters and pointers. The show has been continuously held ever since, predated only by the Kentucky Derby as the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States.
Since those early days the Westminster show has drifted from its hunting roots to a conformation based show.
For each breed there is a written standard, open to interpretation by the judges, established by the American Kennel Club. The dogs are judged on how closely they match that standard.
There is no prize money awarded during at the Westminster show. It's all about the prestige.
"A win there would be the biggest win you could have," said Sorensen.
A win would also place Trucker at the top of the scale for breeding fees. Sorensen's motivation isn't financial, however. She has wanted to raise her own dogs ever since she was a young girl in 4-H.
"For me it's about the science of it, the genetics," Sorensen said. "But it's also an art."
Trucker, for example, was the only fawn-colored pup in a litter by two black parents, and black is a dominate gene in the pug breed. According to Sorensen, the parents must both have a recessive fawn gene that cropped out in Trucker.
It is these types of anomalies, according to Sorensen, that make dog breeding interesting.
"That's your advantage," Sorensen said about all the science surrounding genetics and cloning. "They don't know it all yet."
Sorensen and Trucker will be competing against 25 other pugs before they can tackle the Toy Group, and they will be up against other amateur dog show competitors and professional trainers alike.
Trucker, according to Sorensen, is an underdog in every sense, but being invited to the Westminster show is a real validation of her breeding program here in Hermiston and she has high hopes for the future.