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Top dog from Westbury a 'Major' star

Kim Pastella-Calvacca of Westbury leads her miniature pinscher,

Kim Pastella-Calvacca of Westbury leads her miniature pinscher, Major, through his paces Nov. 14-15, 2009 at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. Photo Credit: handout/handout

He'll be a Thanksgiving Day television star next week, right along with Kermit, Snoopy and Spider-Man.

But this dog is no turkey.

Major, a 2-year-old miniature pinscher from Westbury with a penchant for chewing his handler's shoelaces, took home a pair of blue ribbons last weekend at the National Dog Show Presented by Purina. The competition, sponsored by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, will be broadcast next Thursday by NBC after the Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

Wearing a leash studded with Swarovski crystals, the tiny pooch wowed judges and won over the crowd, said Kim Pastella-Calvacca, his handler and breeder.

"He sparkled," she said. "When he's in that big auditorium, he lights up."

Major - whose show name is Champion Kimro's Soldier Boy - is no stranger to success, having won the best-in-breed trophy earlier this year at the Westminster Dog Show. He has earned nearly six dozen titles in shows from Hartford, Conn., to Portland, Ore., Pastella-Calvacca said.

Though his father, Toy Soldier, had earlier won best-in-breed at Westminster, Major did not look like a future top dog when he was born in January 2007. He was small and had a light-colored coat, said Pastella-Calvacca, 44, a third-generation breeder who owns Major with her husband, Anthony, an attorney, and Richard and Linda Stark of Colorado.

"He was the lightest puppy in the litter," she said. "Nobody saw the good in Major."

But his coat turned a handsome shade of brown, and his playful personality emerged. "One of the judges saw him and just raved over him," Pastella-Calvacca said.

Major's greatest asset is his ability to keep his backbone perfectly flat as he walks with a prance-like gait "like a pony," said Pastella-Calvacca. He loves attention, and will get plenty of it when millions tune into the Thanksgiving broadcast.

"He was cute, and he's comical," Pastella-Calvacca said. "He has that 'Here I am, look at me,' attitude."

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