Master of the Ring

World-class winning Saluki triumphs at Westminster Dog Show

Article by Debra Laizure

Photography by Cindy Alvarez and Julie Mueller

Originally published in Tulsa City Lifestyle

The anticipation has been building for weeks. The atmosphere inside Madison Square Garden is nothing less than electric. The stands are filled with thousands of cheering fans with all eyes on you and your dog. Yes, this is the Westminster Dog Show and it is everything you imagined - and so much more.

Julie Mueller knows what it is like to be in front of a crowd. As a dog breeder and owner, she has dedicated her life to showing and caring for dogs. Her love for dogs began as a child when her mother would take her to dog shows. They began breeding and showing poodles as a hobby.

“It’s all I ever wanted to do,” says Mueller.

Mueller and her mother showed top winning poodles for years. But a gift from Mueller’s partner and fellow dog fancier Eugene Blake changed everything. In 1979, Mueller was involved in a near fatal car accident with a long and painful recovery. Blake gave her a golden-colored Saluki named Karim to cheer her up and help with her rehabilitation.

Karim ultimately became an icon in the breed defeating more than 90,000 dogs during his competitive career. Mueller and Blake embraced the breed and developed a breeding program based on the AKC breed standard and their own high standards of quality for an ideal Saluki.

Born in 2015, GCHG Aurora's Rhythm of My Heart aka Stewart (named after singer Rod Stewart) came from a long line of champions owned and some bred by Mueller and Blake. Stewart was a champion right from the start. He attended his first American Kennel Club (AKC) all-breed competition at 11 months old.

Mueller says, “When people take puppies to their first show, their expectations are typically to have a good time and hope that things go smoothly. Essentially, it’s a practice run.”

But on his first day, Stewart won Winners Dog and Best of Winners for a Major. The next day, he won Best of Breed over six champions, including the number one Saluki in the country at the time, and third place in the Hound Group. Blake, a highly respected AKC Judge himself with 26 years’ experience, including Westminster and AKC National Championship shows, says it was incredible.

He says, “The judge was Bill Shelton, who is one of the most well-regarded judges in our sport. Having him as a judge is a cherished memory we will never forget. Julie was so happy she wore her group ribbon that was pinned to her jacket all the way home from St. Louis!”   

Within a month, Stewart received his championship. At only 14 months old, on the first weekend he was a champion, he won a Reserved Best in Show and a Best in Show. Stewart has been competing non-stop and has garnered a top winning record every year. Earlier this year, he attended the Westminster Kennel Club competition in New York City.

Westminster is the second longest running sporting event in the United States. People come from all over the world to see the dogs. It is a two-day “benched” dog show where dogs are required to stay at their bench all day so the public can view the competitors. Security is extremely high and is nationally televised which adds to the pressure.

Stewart won Best of Breed at Westminster and is currently the number one Saluki and number four Hound in America. He also competed and won Best of Breed at the AKC National Championship dog show last December. He currently holds 18 All Breed Best in Show wins and is a Certified Therapy Dog.

Mueller and Blake love competing and going to dog shows. Their Salukis are impressive show dogs but more importantly, they are pets and beloved members of the family.

They say, “And they are all spoiled rotten!”

About Aurora Kennel

Mueller’s first love has always been to be around dogs whether it is taking care of them, working with them, or simply spending time with them. She opened Aurora Kennel in 1990 offering all breed grooming and boarding services. The store offers holistic food and natural grooming products.

Mueller says, “It’s easy to love dogs. But it takes a day-in and day-out commitment to care for them, just like a child. Aurora Kennel is open seven days a week. We pride ourselves on professionalism and taking care of your pets as if they are our own.”

Aurora Kennel

9721 E. 61st St.

Tulsa, OK 74133


Did you know? The Saluki is one of the oldest known dog breeds and can run 30-35 miles per hour?

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