Gus the bullmastiff on the show dog circuit

A Sussex County bullmastiff has returned home after competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show in New York.

“Boundless Going for the Gusto,” also known as “Gus,” is owned by Lisa and J.P. McCormick of Frankford. They got him from a breeder in Ellicott City, Maryland, after searching several years for the right bullmastiff.

Gus, now 3-1/2 years old, came from Boundless Bullmastiffs’ first litter, which turned out to be an impressive one. Several of Gus’s siblings joined him at Westminster this year.

Prior to Gus, the McCormicks never had a show dog.

“We fell into it accidentally,” Lisa McCormick said. “He ended up being a really nice dog and the breeder asked if we’d consider showing him.”

The McCormicks take Gus to regional shows up and down the coast throughout the year and three annual national shows, Westminster, the American Kennel Club National Championship in Orlando, and The National Dog Show in Philadelphia.

At December’s AKC show, Gus won the “2nd Award of Excellence” for his breed.

No matter where he goes, Gus is considered an AKC Grand Champion Bronze. He’s working toward Silver, then Gold and Platinum. AKC championship titles are based on a point system, where points are earned by participating in and winning at shows.

Westminster is a particularly exciting show for the McCormicks.

“It’s kind of the Super Bowl of dog shows,” McCormick said. “You have to stay in the building with your dog and they have to be in their kennels if they’re not in the ring, and they’re only in the ring about half an hour. There’s cameras everywhere, reporters walking around, everyone’s videoing it. The spectators walk through and they want to pet your dog and ask questions and that’s your obligation. It’s pretty cool. It’s a busy, exciting show.”

More than 2,800 dogs from across the country competed at Westminster this year, 22 of them bullmastiffs. Bullmastiffs are part of the Working Group. This year’s group winner was a boxer. This year’s Best in Show went to a wire fox terrier named King.

Gus’s next show is in March in Massachusetts, but he enjoys life at home. He’s a celebrity at the Starbucks at Harris Teeter in Selbyville, where customers and employees alike greet him by name Sundays. He lives amicably with two Maine coon cat siblings, Hank and Lizzie. His favorite treats are liverwurst and bone marrow bones.

“Here we are, a few years later, on this journey with him,” McCormick said. “It’s been really fun and he’s done really well.”