Mundelein dog back in ring after near-fatal accident
By Chris Cashman For Sun-Times Media December 11, 2013 6:50PM
Moose relaxes with Larry and Diana Lentzs son, Charlie. | Photos provided by Larry Lentz
About the dog show
The 13th annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship will be Dec. 13-15 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. More than 4,000 dogs from 40 countries are entered in the show, which features a purse of more than $225,000.
The event will be televised Feb. 2 on ABC. For more information, visit www.akc.org.
About Chesapeake Bay retrievers
Developed along the Chesapeake Bay and named the state dog of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is an American-bred sporting breed. Bred to work on land and water, the Chesapeake Bay retriever originally hunted waterfowl in cold icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
For more information about Moose and his accomplishments, visit www.mudcreekredmoose.com.
Updated: February 10, 2014 2:50AM
Seven months after swallowing a baby pacifier that nearly cost him his life, Moose is back on the national stage.
The 6-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, owned by Larry and Diana Lentz of Mundelein, will be competing in the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championships at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 13-15.
Mudcreek Red Moose — Moose for short — is no stranger to the show ring, first competing at 6 months old in the puppy group competition at the International Kennel Club of Chicago dog show.
Since then, Moose has won best of breed in Chesapeakes well over 300 times in his show career, Larry Lentz said.
“He’s placed in the (sporting) group more than 90 times, which is kind of unheard of,” Lentz said. “Just to get a placement as a Chesapeake in that group is very rare.”
Moose was ranked by the American Kennel Club as the No. 1 Chesapeake Bay retriever in 2010 and the No. 1 Chesapeake Bay retriever in Grand Champion points in 2011. Last year Moose again was ranked as the No. 1 Chesapeake in AKC All Breed points.
But earlier this year, Moose’s show career was put on hold by the near-fatal accident.
The dog swallowed a baby pacifier in May, which required surgery.
The vet said Moose probably wouldn’t survive a week after the operation.
But Moose not only survived, he returned to the show ring last weekend in Rosemont as a warm-up for the national dog show. Moose won best in breed and the sporting group in the owner/handler division on Saturday.
“He’s a member of the family,” said Lentz, who has two sons, ages 10 months and 2 years.
“He has one of the best temperaments probably of any Chesapeake in the country,” he said.
“When Moose is eating his most favorite rawhide bone in the world, the kid can crawl up to him, take it out of his mouth,” Lentz said. “You usually don’t do that with a dog with his favorite bone. With Moose, no big deal.”
When he’s not competing, you may find Moose working as a therapy dog at a local hospital.
Moose is one of the very first “Chessies” to receive AKC Therapy Dog certification. He currently works as a therapy dog at Lake Forest Hospital and the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.
“He’s happy as can be when we go,” Diana Lentz said. “And the patients love it. They get so much joy out of it.”
Larry Lentz has had other dogs, “but they were just hound dogs,” he said. “This is the first dog we’ve ever shown. We’ve never had a show dog and we never planned on having a show dog.”
Lentz is coach and owner of the Lake County Athletic and Boxing Club in the Libertyville Sports Complex. He was the super heavyweight champion of the Rage in the Cage, and five-time Toughman champion.
Lentz had never been a dog handler before showing Moose. “For someone who’s never handled a dog to go win the Chesapeake (breed) and the group and win the Best in Show is unheard of for a dog,” he said.
“We basically bought him for a pet, we weren’t going to show him. I said let’s make him a champion like I was at one time. He learned real quick and we just kept on showing him.”
Lentz called the AKC/Eukanuba event in Orlando “a special show,” but said Moose’s chances of winning Best in Show are “slim and nil.”
“A Chesapeake has never even placed in the (sporting) group,” Lentz said.
“Our goal is to win the breed and get the opportunity to show in the group,” he said.
Lentz said the national event is not totally unlike the 2000 movie “Best in Show,” a comedy that follows five entrants in a fictitious dog show.
“It’s the same thing,” Lentz said. “It’s crazy. Everyone’s got their own little weirdness about them, or special thing about them. There are definitely people out there with similarities to that dog show that they were portraying in the movie.”