HomeCommunity NewsFira the Dog Stars in Show at Santa Barbara

Fira the Dog Stars in Show at Santa Barbara

First published in the Oct. 21 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

San Marino has a new champion in its midst, but she won’t be making speeches or taking selfies to memorialize the achievement.
But perhaps Fira Sanok is receiving extra bacon-flavored treats since her victory at the Santa Barbara Kennel Club’s dog show, where the Swedish Vallhund won best of breed. City resident Joseph Sanok might be in the mood to give Fira as many as she wants after her performance at the American Kennel Club-sanctioned event.

Fira — short for Firande, which means “celebration” in Swedish — became a member of the Sanok family a couple of years ago when Joseph’s teenage son, Nathan, saw YouTube videos of the breed that piqued his curiosity. A few phone calls later, Nathan located a breeder in Savannah, Georgia, and before you knew it, Fira was being introduced to Lacy Park.
There was just one catch.
“The breeder told me he would give me one of his best dogs, but he asked that I show her,” Joseph Sanok said. “I had never shown a dog before.”
Sanok found obedience training for Fira at the Rose Bowl and soon the dog was gaiting and stacking with the best of them. She was entered in a show in late 2019 but was too young to challenge the more experienced dogs, one of which had won at the fabled Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. In the meantime, Sanok kept accompanying Fira to classes, tossing her bait (the term for the snacks tossed to the dogs to motivate them to perform) and taking her to the park. It all paid off in late August when she won at Santa Barbara.
Sweden’s national dog breed, the Vallhund dates back more than 1,000 years to the days of the Vikings.
“We can’t go anywhere without 10 people asking us what kind of dog she is,” said Sanok, who also commented that Fira “has an amazing personality.”
“She knows all the dogs in Lacy Park,” he said with a chuckle.
Hopefully, she will soon know all the judges in the AKC.
The Sanok family includes Joseph and his wife, Lonnie; Nathan; and college-age twins Alina and Joseph. Fira will take a couple of months off before returning to the show circuit in December.

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