Sharon Freeman of Mariposa is going to the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City this week, taking her Icelandic Sheep Dog “Cooper” with her in hopes of bringing awards home.
Freeman is the president of the Yosemite Kennel Club with members in Merced and Mariposa counties. The premier, nationally-televised canine competition will be Feb. 9-11 with breeders, owners and handlers from throughout the world.
Cooper, formally known as “Super Duper Cooper,” is 5 years old and is ranked the third best Icelandic Sheep Dog in the
country. He also is third in Grand Champion points and the sixth-ranked in All-Breed competition.
Cooper is accustomed to winning in the American Kennel Club arena.
Freeman says Cooper was the AKC National Championship breed winner in Dec. 15 competition in Orlando, Fla. He has more than 40 breed wins in 2019 and has been competing since he was 6 months old.
“He’s sweet, docile and loving. He loves of give lots of kisses and is really patient with my 1 1/2-year-old grandson. He loves to play in the snow and gets along with everyone,” Freeman says.
Cooper is 17 1/2 inches tall and weighs about 35 pounds. When it comes to barking, he’s very vocal. He loves to chase cars outside his fully fenced yard and will bark at a herd of deer and a flock of turkeys when they pass by his compound.
Freeman, 71, is a licensed clinical social worker at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla where she has worked for 11 years. She’s always had dogs and says when her daughter Kristen was about 13 she wanted a dog to show. They found a mastiff and started showing.
She has had five mastiffs before the Icelandic Sheep Dogs came into her life. Cooper has a sister, Gigi, and another four-legged friend, JJ. She says the show competition is a good distraction or diversion from her work at the women’s prison, like a little fantasy world.
At the Westminster Show, Bill McFadden of Acampo will be his handler. She also will be accompanied by Cooper’s breeder, Cathy Lellamand of Michigan.
The Yosemite Kennel Club did dog shows locally for years and now competes at Woofstock in Vallejo with the Contra Costa Kennel Club. It’s one of the biggest shows in California, with almost 3,000 canines competing.
Cooper has had multiple group placings and won his breed in two herding specialties. Freeman says she’s competitive and has entered dog shows for 30 years.
Cooper, Freeman says, has been on AKC TV, a live-streaming app in shows in Florida, Palm Springs and Portland and is a media darling when he’s on the screen.
Not only does Cooper enjoy the dog show routine, Freeman says it’s lots of fun and she has gotten to meet many nice people and develop friendships through it.