Boynton Beach-area man judges hound group at Westminster dog show

Updated Feb 14, 2018
Boynton Beach resident Jeffrey Pepper evaluates a 5-year-old borzoi named Lucy. (Photo credit: Jack Grassa)

Jeffrey Pepper travels across the country and world to judge dog shows, and this week spent a couple of days in New York City for the most prestigious one in the nation — The 142nd Westminster Kennel Club DogShow.

The suburban Boynton Beach resident judged the Hound Group on Monday night. Pepper had more than 30 dogs to evaluate and had to decide which most closely conformed to the individual breed standard. Pepper looked at size, color, temperament, how the dog should move and what its job is.

“It’s a blueprint of what that dog should look like,” said Pepper, 74.

He gave first place to a 5-year-old borzoi named Lucy.

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Second place went to a 6-year-old bloodhound. Pepper awarded third place to a 4-year-old, 15-inch beagle and fourth place to a 2-year-old whippet.

Pepper felt right at home in New York City. The borzoi comes from Palm Beach County and belongs to Michele Molnar, Jamie Danburg and Minoru Kato. Unfortunately, the owners couldn’t be immediately reached Wednesday.

The borzoi moved up to the Best in Show competition with the winners of the Toy, Non-Sporting, Herding, Sporting, Working and Terrier groups. But the borzois’ luck ended there. A 5-year-old bichon frise named Flynn, according to the Associated Press, from the Non-Sporting group claimed Best in Show.

Pepper described his judging experience as “wonderful.”

“It was an amazing honor to be asked to do the group,” he said.

» Watch the judging here by clicking Hound Group part 1 and part 2

This was Pepper’s third time judging at Westminster. He has also judged competitions in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand and South America, according to a news release. In addition to hound breeds, Pepper is approved to judge all sporting breeds, cavalier king charles spaniels and Best in Show.

In 1985, Pepper received his first American Kennel Club license to judge golden retrievers, his first breed.

Pepper still manages to make time for his own furry animals. He owns two Champion cavalier king charles spaniels named Angie, 12, and Hugo, 3½, and a whippet named Quill, who is 4 ½.