Newfoundlands are a family affair for the Liston’s
Rifle family’s love for Newfoundland breed takes them all the way to New York City
Four years ago Caleb and Megan Liston welcomed Finnegan into their lives. Little did they know he would take them on the trip of a lifetime.
A not so little bundle of joy, Finnegan isn’t your typical 4-year-old — he is a 175-pound, nationally ranked Newfoundland.
Finnegan is no ordinary dog; he is the family pet, and best friend to the Listons’ daughter Quinn.
Typically the Listons, who make their home in Rifle, would only show him once, maybe twice a month traveling around Colorado and the southwest.
After winning Newfoundland Club of America National Specialty Dog Show in Michigan, the Listons made a trip all the way to Orlando for a show last December, where he placed second.
“He’s a darn good-looking dog. Newfoundlands in general are a good-looking breed. Maybe I’m biased, but Finnegan is pretty spectacular,” Caleb Liston said.
With a little nudging from friends, Caleb and Megan decided to enter Finnegan in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City.
“It was always a thought in my head just to attend as a spectator because I’m originally from New Jersey, but I never did while I lived there,” said Megan Liston.
“I would watch it every year on TV. It would just be something I love to watch, but I never in a million years ever would think I would have a dog entered.”
The Listons traveled across the country in the family car, with Finnegan and their 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Quinn.
“Thirty hours in the car, because a 175-pound Newfoundland doesn’t do well in an airplane,” Megan said.
Finnegan, who reached a rank as high as sixth in the country, competed against 18 other Newfoundlands in February.
“To even be there and show at Westminster is a huge honor. There are a total of only 2,500 dogs that compete,” Megan said.
Finnegan placed in the top three, receiving an award of merit.
“To just make it to Westminster is a huge accomplishment, and then to walk out of there with a ribbon blew our minds. It was beyond our expectations,” Megan said.
The Listons said it was a fun family trip, letting their daughter experience all of it at such a young age, and Finnegan did fantastic being in the city.
“He handled the crowds, noises and walking through the streets like a pro. He did better than Caleb,” Megan jokingly said of her husband, who grew up in Glenwood Springs and didn’t adjust to the city as well as the family pet.
“It was a really wonderful experience,” Megan said.
A LOVE FOR A BREED
BRINGS THEM TOGETHER
Caleb and Megan came together almost six years ago when Caleb reached out to a Facebook group after rescuing a Newfoundland.
Caleb’s affection for the Newfoundland breed goes back to his youth when his parents brought home their first Newfoundland in the 1970s.
Megan began showing Newfoundlands 13 years ago.
Caleb, a stay-at-home dad, and Megan a registered nurse at Grand River Health, have three Newfoundlands, including Finnegan, at their home in Rifle.
“I started going to shows and watching, and thinking, hey I could do that,” Megan said.
“It took quite a bit of time to get a dog that was worthy of showing.”
Caleb calls himself the show Sherpa.
“I haul everything in, set everything up, and I’m there for moral support,” Caleb said.
Things have changed with the birth of their daughter, Quinn, who occupies a lot of Caleb’s time during shows now.
“I love being at the shows, and obviously I love seeing Finnegan win, but I love seeing Megan doing it because it is what brings her happiness and joy,” Caleb said.
CONTINUING THE LINE
Their love of Newfoundlands has the Listons breeding them to help continue the line.
“We do all the health testing for both the sire and the dame, making sure it’s a good match,” Megan said.
So far the Listons have had two litters out of three attempts, with Finnegan coming as part of the first litter.
They currently have a two-year wait list for their puppies.
“It’s a very long process. A lot of research goes into it. It’s not just something we do as a hobby or fun,” Megan said.
“This breed is so important to us. We hope that our daughter continues to carry on our lines as she grows. We want to preserve this breed and this breed type.”
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.