DENNISON — When he was just 16, Milan Lint got his first Newfoundland.
He took his first dog to a puppy match, an event he called the “beginning of a decades-long addiction.”
Fast forward 42 years and we find Lint, who grew up in Dennison and was a 1978 graduate of Claymont High School, very active in the world of show dogs. He will be at the top of the dog show world, in fact, at this year’s Westminster Dog Show where he will be a judge of Newfoundlands and Portuguese water dogs at the annual event.
After graduating from Claymont, Lint Went on to Ohio State and business school and eventually landed in New York City.
A smaller living area and Newfoundlands, a breed that can grow to as much as 150 pounds, wasn’t a good mix, so Lint said he switched to Portuguese water dogs, which was a better fit in his lifestyle.
“I’ve been breeding and showing them ever since,” he said.
Lint has gone beyond showing his dog as he got into the judging world and has become recognized enough to have been asked to judge at the Westminster show.
“We’re working from a detailed description of these dogs,” he said. “It’s the judge’s responsibility to be familiar with the breed’s standards. The dogs aren’t competing against one another, but against the standard.”
The Westminster show is expected to start with 3,000 entries, which are separated into nearly 200 breeds, where they are judged and the best of breed is selected. Those are divided into seven groups — sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, nonsport and herding. The seven dogs judged best of group advance to a final, where the best of show is selected.
“As a judge, it’s an honor to be selected for this event,” Lint said. “This is the show of shows. Being asked to judge, and being asked to judge your own breed, is something special.
“I enjoy judging, but if I had to choose, I’d still take breeding and showing. That’s something I very much enjoy.
“This is exciting and I enjoy the competitiveness, but it can be disappointing as well. You’re dealing with live animals and things can go wrong depending on the circumstances. But when you’re a breeder, you look for the great champion in every litter.”
Lint credits his family — including Mother Kathy, brothers Rob and Aaron, sisters Renee and Amy — for indulging his “dog habit.”
“When you’re a breeder, there can be a lot of disruptions and interruptions of scheduled family events,” he said.