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Luc Boileau was impressed with Jewel from the start of the competition.

“Right away when she came in the ring, she caught my eye,” said Boileau, the judge of the hound group at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, during a phone interview from his home in Burlington, Wis., on Wednesday.

Jewel, more formally known as Ch. Kiarry’s Pandora’s Box, a 3-year-old American foxhound from Kiarry Kennels in Mechanicsville, ended up winning best in group for hounds on Feb. 11 at this year’s Westminster show, beating out approximately 29 other best in breed winners.

It was a huge win for Kiarry Kennels, which has done a great deal already to promote the American foxhound breed.

“Her win at Westminster was the biggest so far,” wrote Lisa Miller of Mechanicsville, who along with her husband, Harry, bred Jewel. “I was very surprised, and all those dogs were amazing… Just to win the breed and go to the hound group that night was a thrill.”

Boileau grew up in Canada, where he had experience hunting with hounds. He said that hounds are intelligent, “but they’re stubborn, too. They always want to be a step ahead of you.”

He is a fan of American foxhounds, he said, and he said that Jewel was a beautiful example of the breed. “She was in such gorgeous condition,” Boileau said. “She could go out … and do the work she was bred to do.” Miller said Jewel’s athletic toning was no accident. Jewel prepares for competition by a regimen of running and roadwork to build muscle and stamina.

Boileau said Jewel showed very well and held her tail up the whole time, showing an excellent attitude.

“She was just magnificent,” Boileau said.

After her big win, the Millers took Jewel back to the hotel to rest and have some water. “She was exhausted, as she showed her heart out,” Miller said. “As for us, we went to a nice restaurant for dinner.”

They brought a steak back for Jewel.

However, the big event was still ahead. As the winner of her group competition, Jewel qualified to compete in the central event of the show – the best in show competition. On Feb. 12, she would go up against the top winners in the other group competitions – toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier groups. There were 2,721 entries in the entire show. It came down to the best seven dogs.

“She was not done,” Miller said.

So, the following night, the American foxhound from Mechanicsville stepped into the center ring of Madison Square Garden in New York City with the six other top winners in the show.

Ultimately, top honors were awarded to Banana Joe, an affenpinscher. Second place went to Bugaboo, an old English sheepdog.

Not to rest on her laurels, just days after Westminster, the Millers were on the road again and traveled to Greenville, S.C., where Jewel won two hound group first-place awards and another best in show.

Miller said Jewel understands competition. “Yes, Jewel knows when she has done well,” Miller said. “I can tell in her eyes. She looks at me like ‘Well, what did you think? I did good.’”

The plan for Jewel is to finish out the year participating in shows, but then she will retire from the ring.

Motherhood is hopefully in her future. One result of being a top-winning show dog is the increased value of any progeny. However, Miller declined to say how much one of Jewel’s puppies would be worth now. “We do have plans for her to have a litter,” Miller said. “And, at this point, I plan on keeping [the puppies],” except those that might go “to a few special people.”

For most of this week, Jewel has been at home with her family “to run and be a dog just a few days,” Miller said. “She loves to run and play.”

Jewel is not above chasing squirrels. She loves chicken and just about any food, Miller said.

At night, she sleeps in bed with the Millers.

Miller said she picked Jewel out as a winner when she was a newborn. “I knew when she was born she was beautiful,” Miller said. “Then, when she started walking around and causing trouble with her litter mates, I knew she was the one. I said, ‘That one’s a real Jewel!’

“She is the breed standard for the American foxhound, and she has the attitude to go with it. She never backs down from anything. She holds the record for the most best in shows of any American Foxhound, [a record that] was [formerly] held by her grandfather, Ch. Kiarry’s Reflections of the Sun, “Sunny,” who at 10 years old is her best buddy. Jewel was the No. 1 hound in the country for 2012 and, so far, for 2013,” Miller said.

Jewel is co-owned by Ellen M. Charles of Washington, D.C.

scraton@somdnews.com