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Ligonier golden retriever competes in National Dog Show

Jacob Tierney

Every dog owner thinks his or her pet is the best, but one Ligonier golden retriever has the plaudits to prove it.

Daniel, owned by Tammy Tomlinson of Ligonier, made his national television debut Thursday at the National Dog Show, broadcast on NBC after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

He’s the American Kennel Club’s top-rated golden retriever, a title earned from victories at numerous dog shows across the country.

“He is exactly what a golden retriever should be,” said Tomlinson, who owns Hillock Goldens, a Ligonier kennel that breeds and raises golden retrievers.

Daniel won best in breed at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia this week, but he didn’t take top dog — a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Ducky won best sporting dog, while Whiskey the whippet took Best in Show.

However, Daniel’s not done yet, Tomlinson said.

“This is our practice year,” she said. “2019 is when we’re going to get really serious with him.”

She’s been breeding golden retrievers for 45 years, many of them competitive show dogs. She currently owns 17 and says Daniel might be the best she’s seen.

In addition to having all the physical qualities judges look for, Daniel has an unflappable temperament that makes him well suited to shows.

“Anything could happen around him and it wouldn’t phase him,” Tomlinson said.

Normally she takes her dogs to shows herself, but in Daniel’s case she hired professional handler Karen Mammano.

“It’s extremely time-consuming,” she said. “I just decided that I couldn’t be away every single weekend.”

Daniel’s success is the result of decades of work. “This particular dog is many generations of my own breeding, and not many people in the country get to that particular level,” Tomlinson said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.


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Handler Karen Mammano poses with Golden Retriever Daniel, the top-rated Golden Retriever in the country. Daniel belongs to Tammy Tomlinson, owner of Hillock Goldens in Ligonier.
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