(Lander, WY) – Solo, a local rat terrier, has won numerous awards at the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC) shows, and is now headed to the prestigious UKC Premier in June as the number one rat terrier in the United States.
Solo’s owner Sharma Sonntag, of Lander, has worked with him for four years towards being in the UKC top 10. He was ranked number four in 2019, number three in 2021, and achieved number one in 2022. He got his first Reserve Best in Show at 13 months old.
Solo is the third rat terrier I have gotten into the top 10 but the first to become number one, Sonntag shared.
The two were invited to attend the top 10 finals in Kalamazoo, Michigan in mid-June, the last piece to her four-year goal with Solo. The show is called Premier – the first day is the top 10, and the next 3 days are Premier Nationals.
“Premier is to UKC, what Westminster is to AKC,” she explained. “Dogs from across the nation gather to compete against each other.”
A self-proclaimed stoic person after working in dispatch at the sheriff’s office for 20 years, Sonntag noted one thing she is not emotionally numb about is her dogs.
“I’ll turn inside out before I’ll cry in front of somebody,” she said. “But when I pulled his number one certificate out of my mailbox, even though I knew it was coming, I was standing out there bawling my eyes out because it was the realization of not only a four-year goal but a promise that I made to his breeder.”
Sonntag actually grew up with rat terriers, which took care of the vermin, on a small farm in Washington state. She didn’t have another one until she got Dart in 2012.
Dart was just supposed to be her dog; she had no plans to get into dog shows. However, his breeders wanted to breed him for champions and grand champions, which prompted Sonntag’s husband, who wasn’t into dog shows, to encourage her to show him.
“It actually really saved me. Getting me through the last few years because I didn’t retire from the sheriff’s office until 2018. And being a supervisor and always short on dispatchers. When I left for a dog show, I was out of the county. A lot of times, I was out of state. So I finally had something I could go do, and I could decompress. So it was kind of a lifesaver for me.”
Sonntag had told herself she was only going to show Dart until he was a champion and then be done with the dog shows. Now, here she is years later, still showing dogs and has a kennel of her own, Bahroo Rat Terriers.
“It just gets in your blood and you just like to go and compete and have fun and you have your dog show family because I’m kind of missing regular family. I don’t have any regular family now that my husband has passed away. So my dogs are my family and my dog show family is my family.”