canada africa partner reservation Colorado woman earns second selection as a judge at the iconic Westminster Dog Show

Colorado woman earns second selection as a judge at the iconic Westminster Dog Show

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Dog show judge Joyce Vanek plays with her Portuguese water dog Harper, April 18, 2024, in Evergreen. Judging dogs is based on a technical standard of a physical blueprint of each breed, Vanek says. Supporting and preserving breeds is a key tenet of large-scale dog shows, and the hobby fits Vanek’s passion for competition and ‘rare things’.
Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun via Report for America

EVERGREEN – Outside, even on a cloudy and cold spring morning, the foothills around Joyce Vanek’s home rise, enveloping the slowly thawing valley in the striking natural beauty that drew her to Colorado.

Inside, a three-year-old champion Portuguese water dog curiously greets visitors before jumping onto the couch and sitting next to her owner. Named in part after famed novelist Harper Lee (previous pets include a miniature donkey named Atticus and a cat named Scout), Harper provides living, breathing evidence of Vanek’s appreciation for rare and beautiful things—whether it’s champion pups that feed four of the seven wrapping Summits or appreciating good wine as a certified sommelier.

All around them, walls and tables covered with books, photographs, framed sketches and assorted memorabilia reflect Vanek’s passionate life spent breeding, showing and – after years of experience and training – judging dogs in competition.



A special keepsake: a page with typed lines under an iconic logo of a pointer mid-stridecaptures the culmination of that passion: an invitation to judge this year’s Westminster Dog Show in New York, widely considered the world’s premier canine event.

Read more from Kevin Simpson at ColoradoSun.com