Gone to the dogs: Destin woman to judge Westminster Dog Show in February

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
Charlotte Patterson poses recently in her Destin home with her three dogs. She will be a judge in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York in February. NICK TOMECEK/THE LOG

Destin resident Charlotte Patterson is running with the big dogs.

Patterson, who has lived in Destin for 41 years, was selected to be a judge for the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, which will take place on Feb. 13-14.

Patterson is one of seven group judges at the oldest and most prestigious dog show in the country, and will be judging the very competitive Toy Group. The show is the second-oldest continually held sporting event in the United States, behind the Kentucky Derby.   

“It’s sort of the crown jewel of American dog shows,” Patterson said. “Everybody goes with their good dogs, and they all want to win.”

Patterson has nearly 50 years of experience as a dog owner, breeder and handler, and has been judging for over 25 years. This year’s Westminster show will be her sixth time judging the preeminent competition, and Patterson said it is an honor to be invited to judge again. The veteran judge said she knows just what to look for at this year’s event.

“Of course, every breed has its standard that it’s developed. And a judge must know those standards, and you go in there and you think, ‘how does this dog, this dog and this dog compare to those standards?” she said. “And a judge’s job is to find the dog that comes the closest to the standard for that breed. Showmanship enters into it, of course. But the majority of these dogs have been shown and are trained in this.”

Patterson has three dogs, a pug, a Clumber Spaniel and a Sussex Spaniel. She said her own love of dogs is the reason she got into the dog show world in the first place.

“I think the hook that gets you in the beginning is that you buy a dog, and you love that dog, and then maybe you buy another one, and then you go with your friends to a dog show,” she said. “And you watch these dogs being shown and it looks interesting, fun and entertaining. … Before you know it, you’re breeding and you’re in the dog game, as they say.”

The show will air Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 on the FS1 network.