There’s an old saying – every dog has its day, and if you happen to be 2-year-old Pekingese Empress (Emmie) Luxmore, then you just had a very big year. As 1 of the brood of 15 dogs owned by Akron Children’s emergency room physician Dr. Brett Luxmore and his wife Halle, Emmie won the prized Best of Opposite Sex award at the elite Westminster Kennel Club dog show held in February in New York City.
Halle, who grew up riding horses and had a few dogs as family pets, admits her dog obsession is relatively new. Having lived on a farm in Hiram with 2 black Labradors, sheep, llamas and goats for most of her married life, Halle was ready for a lap dog when she and her husband moved to their current home in Bath Township. At the time, Dr. Luxmore’s coworker, fellow emergency room physician Dr. Mike Billow, was breeding Japanese Chins.
“We purchased a Japanese Chin and in 2010 I started pursuing the dog show world,” said Halle. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing – it’s more than just walking around with a pretty looking dog. There’s a protocol you have to learn.”
At first Dr. Luxmore accompanied his wife to local competitions, even competing in a few, but it became apparent the time commitment and travel was more than his schedule would allow. That’s when their son, Mason, age 22, and Halle’s mother stepped in to become traveling companions or dog sitters for the many weekends she was gone.
“I work 2 full weekends a month so it’s hard for me to get away,” said Dr. Luxmore. “Whenever I can, I try to go and support her.”
In 2015, Halle purchased a Pekingese puppy from a friend in Paris, France and made the decision to start showing her. Her regal name, GCH CH Follow Me Just Call Me Empress, befits a dog of her Parisian pedigree.
When asked who gets treated better, Dr. Luxmore says there’s no question.
“There’s definitely a hierarchy in the house and I’m not at the top,” he joked.
According to Halle the dogs eat the same things she makes for her family – chicken, ham, brown rice and scrambled eggs in addition to dog food. When on the road Emmie and her posse are often treated to a plain cheeseburger, no bun, from McDonald’s.
“I always bring extras home for the dogs that didn’t travel with us so no one feels left out,” she said.
Although he may not have a role at the shows, Dr. Luxmore is often put to work helping with nightly brushing.
“I do all the grooming myself,” says Halle of the routine that involves bathing, blow drying, brushing and trimming nails. “Because their hair is 12 inches long it can take between 4-6 hours to groom each dog.”
In 2016, Halle traveled nearly every weekend taking between 4 and 6 dogs to shows each time. She racked up 65,000 miles driving to places like Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia and Illinois and has some funny stories as a result.
“I blew out 2 tires, had my car towed, and watched my car roll backwards off a tire jack down I-71 with my dogs still in it,” she said. “At the time it wasn’t funny, but I’ve learned you have to have a sense of humor if you’re going to do this.”
Attending shows equates to culminating points which can earn you a golden ticket to the crown jewel of dog shows – Westminster. With that goal complete, Halle hopes to get invited back to Westminster with 1-year-old Ranger, a dog she bred herself. Ranger’s already well on his way to making a name for himself. He was recently featured on the cover of The Orient Express (a national magazine devoted to all things Pekingnese).
Halle does a lot of research about the Pekingnese breed and studies their pedigrees and genealogy before adopting a dog. She’s been known to travel to Chicago’s O’Hare airport to pick up her pooches.
“I have 1 from England, 4 from Paris and 1 from Russia,” she said. “I like to import bloodlines.”
Dr. Luxmore is clearly proud of his wife of 23 years for her commitment to their furry family.
“She set a goal for herself to have the best female Pekingnese in the U.S. and wanted to get there in a year’s time,” he said. “That takes consistency and dedication, but she accomplished it.”
So far in 2017 Emmie is resting on her laurels as top dog and plans to take the year off from dog shows. Her big plans for 2017 – becoming a mommy.
Halle, who admits she missed her calling as a veterinarian, looks forward to expanding her brood.
“Most people think we’re nuts, but this is our passion,” she said.