Driver is top dog, the cat’s meow — the dog’s woof.

Born and raised in Macedon at Opdyke’s Kennels, the 5-year-old St. Bernard, officially named Ch. Opdyke’s Drives Me to Drink, has wolfed down first place at the St. Bernard Club of America’s National Specialty, where only the best dogs are shown, for two years going, and fetched first at the Top 20 this year in Missouri.

For five out of nine consecutive years, Opdyke Kennels has dominated the National Specialty.

“It’s unheard of to do that,” said Carolyn Cataldo-Trachtenberg, co-owner with Glenn and Diane Radcliffe, of Opdyke Kennels. “The National is such a big thing.”

But, being a champion isn’t all show.

To maintain his status in the pecking order, Driver is put through the paces by Cataldo-Trachtenberg, who tends to his training, bathing and conditioning. Although his legs are washed every day to keep his fur white, the smart-looking Driver has a complete bath and blow dry once a week, which takes four hours.

Now that the Radcliffes have moved out of state, Cataldo-Trachtenberg, who does the grunt work of caring for about 20 dogs and preparing them for show, is dogged by the competition.

“It’s what keeps me going,” she said. “I do not like to lose.”

To produce the national top dog, it takes the ability to look objectively at your kennel, she said. Dogs need to be bred to correct and get the right characteristics.

In 1990, Cataldo-Trachtenberg met the Radcliffes and started working with them.

“I leased a couple of their bitches, because I wanted some of the characteristics they had in their dogs that my dogs didn’t have,” she said.

By 1994, she was named a partner in their kennel.

A licensed veterinary technician by trade, Cataldo-Trachtenberg no longer practices, but said her training comes in handy, when working with the dogs.

A typical show day runs from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Not only are the dogs to be shown prepared, but also the pups that need to learn to socialize and are taken.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said.

Born into the world of St. Bernards, Cataldo-Trachtenberg literally teethed on her family’s first St. Bernard, Hedwig.

“I teethed on her lips, chewing and chewing,” she said.

By the time Cataldo-Trachtenberg was 11, Hedwig died and the family purchased Candy.

“I started showing Candy at American Kennel Club dog show in classes against adults,” she said.

From there, she never looked back.
Cataldo-Trachtenberg owns and operates a boarding, grooming business, which she purchased from her mother.

“That’s what supports my expensive hobby,” she laughed.