Watertown’s Bradley adjusts to retired role in dog world

Thomas H. Bradley III, chief operating officer of Take the Lead, who has retired in his roles at Westminster Dog Show, poses in the foyer of where the nonprofit is based on Washington Street in Watertown. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

Thomas H. Bradley III, who competed in his first dog show as a teenager in 1955 at the Adirondack Kennel Club show in Lake Placid, is still involved in the sport, but now it’s a matter of “show’ when his dogs compete.

Mr. Bradley, 80, Watertown, has an English pointer and two smooth fox terriers which their handlers train for dog shows around the country.

In 1975, Mr. Bradley joined the Westminster Kennel Club, and since then he has held many positions within the club, including communications director. But he is best known for his 15-year tenure as show chairman for the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. He is also certified to judge many breeds.

Established in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Mr. Bradley was Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show chairman for 15 years, and a judge at the contest for much longer.

In 2017, Mr. Bradley judged Best in Show at Westminster. Traditionally, the Best in Show judge is asked to come back and judge on the breed level two years later. In 2019, Mr. Bradley judged Brittanys and Pointers. He retired from judging and his Westminster membership in the spring of 2019. To avoid any apparent conflicts, the members of Westminster are not allowed to compete at the show.

“I judged for 50-plus years,” Mr. Bradley said. “Enough was enough. Travel was getting to be so difficult. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I regret it in some cases, sometimes. So, I’ve returned to my original roots of showing dogs. It keeps me active in the sport.”

His pointer’s official name is “CH Solivia’s Decisions Decisions known as Freesia.”

“The CH in front of her name indicates that she has earned enough AKC points to be titled a champion,” Mr. Bradley said. Solivia is the kennel name operated by Dennis and Katey Brown of Nebraska, where the dog is based. Dennis is also a breeder and co-owns the dog with Mr. Bradley.

“Decision Decision came from trying to decide to keep her or her sister from the litter,” Mr. Bradley said.

That dog and his smooth fox terriers have won several honors, including tops in breeds. One of his terriers will be going to Croatia for a year, to be shown in Europe, and to be used as a stud.

“His sire did the same thing a few years ago and one of his sons in Sweden is the top smooth (terrier) there,” Mr. Bradley said.

The Westminster Kennel Club held its first dog show in 1877. For the first time in 100 years, the 2021 version will be held elsewhere rather than New York City’s Madison Square Garden, which has hosted it for more than 100 years. The show will also leave New York City for the first time for its 145th annual show in 2021.

The Westminster Dog Show is usually held the second Monday and Tuesday in February. Because of the pandemic, the Westminster Kennel Club made the changes for next year’s show.

A major change for the 2021 Westminster show, Mr. Bradley said, is that it will be held outdoors on June 20 and 21.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” he said. “It will be on the grounds of Lyndhurst.”

Lyndhurst Estate, also known as the Jay Gould estate, is a Gothic Revival country house that sits in its own 67-acre park beside the Hudson River.

“It’s going to be pretty wonderful and typical Westminster,” Mr. Bradley said. “They’re going to do it right.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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