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Renton is home to the No. 1 Chinook in the country – Oscar
In a rare breed, Oscar stands out. So does his brother, Ranger.
They are Chinooks, dogs who were bred about a century ago to work and play hard, especially in the snow. And they are devoted to their human families, so don't keep them off in a kennel.
"They are basically a family dog," said Marleen Mandt, Oscar's owner.
And they have an on and off switch. "They like to work, but then they like to get in and lie down right next to you," says Mandt, who spent part of the interview with Oscar on her lap.
Retired from Boeing, Mandt lives in Kennydale, where she has raised 4-year-old Oscar and 7-year-year old Tobin since they were puppies. Where Oscar is outgoing, Tobin is a bit shy.
Oscar is the No. 1 Chinook in the United States, based on a system of points earned in competitions and championships (he has two) at dog shows where he competes in the working-class category.
His registered name is CH Channahon’s Kikiah Tyee CM. Oscar and Ranger share the same father, Northern Kodiak, owned by Channahon Chinooks in Illinois.
Tobin was bred at Aspencreek Chinooks in the Fairwood area, where Cheryl Brown is a Chinook breeder; she's president of the Chinook Club of America. Brown and her son Tyler own Ranger.
Ranger, 5 1/2, and Oscar are among about 800 purebred Chinooks registered with the American Kennel Club, making it one of the rarest dog breeds. The AKC recognized the Chinook in January, an historic event for the breed, Mandt says.
The start of the breed goes back to 1917, with the birth of a dog named Chinook in New Hampshire, where the breed is now the state dog. His mother was a Husky and his father was a large mixed-breed dog who was on Admiral Peary's expedition to the North Pole.
From that dog comes its name and its general characteristics, especially the tawny or sandy color of its short coat. Oscar likes to "talk." Howl and he'll howl back.
The original Chinook was bred by Antarctic explorer Arthur Walden, who wanted to develop a sled dog with the ability to pull freight over snow. It's that affinity for the snow and an ability to work hard that drew Mandt to the Chinook.
Mandt had served in the National Ski Patrol for 40 some years. Before Chinooks, her preference was the Rottweiler, but they tended to break through the snow and would tire.
The Chinook provided her with the stamina and versatility, especially in the snow, that she wanted.
Oscar's success in the show ring comes down to two things: he's the perfect example of his breed, known as typing, and he's a natural stacker, which is how he presents himself.
"When you put a show lead on, he naturally gets himself into a really nice position," Mandt said. "And he has attitude in the ring."
He's flashy, meaning he shows well.
"He feels like he owns the place," Mandt said.
Mandt has shown Oscar for about three years; next show is Saturday (June 8) in Puyallup.
Likely in his future is the famed Westminster Dog Show in New York City and possibly the AKC/Eukanuba National Dog Show in Florida.
Oscar's junior handler is Anna Pearson of Snohomish, who would show him at these national events. Anna's sister Laura is a professional handler who works with Ranger, who hasn't campaigned as much as Oscar.
"Ranger has been to six AKC shows and is a work in progress as far as training for the show ring," said Cheryl Brown. However, he has amassed about 290 all-breed points, which she calls an "amazing feat." Ranger will compete more this year, going for his first championship.
And then there's Ranger's grandfather, Aspencreek's Jackson Tyee, born in 2000 in Renton. Now living in Kent, Jackson Tyee is famous in his own right. He's a grand champion in the national United Kennel Club and he represents the Chinook breed in a photo on the New Hampshire state website.
"We were looking for the perfect family dog that had a great temperament and loves kids," said Brown who has owned Chinooks since 1997.
At home, Oscar and Tobin are just the family dogs.
"Sometimes I have to fight for the couch," says Mandt.
Here is Oscar's resume
Oscar “CH Channahon’s Kikiah Tyee CM”
• AKC: Ranked No. 1 Chinook in the country
• AKC: One of two Chinooks to have received his championship, Chinooks received full recognition January 2013 to Working Group
• AKC: One of two Chinooks to have received a Certificate of Merit
• AKC: 2012 Winner of Chinook National Specialty
• Awarded titles UKC COA NWDP, AWDP, EWDP Working Dog Program Sledding Dog
AKC = American Kennel Club
UKC = United Kennel Club
CCA = Chinook Club of America
COA = Chinook Owners Association
NWDP = Novice Working Dog Program
AWDP = Advanced Working Dog Program
EWDP = Excellent Working Dog Program
www.chinook.org/wdp.html working dog program (Chinook Owners Association)
www.chinookclubofamerica.org/home.htm (Chinook Club of America)
www.akc.org (American Kennel Club)