STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) — Dog lovers around the world will be focused on New York for the annual Westminster dog show next week. One of the most surprising dogs will come from Minnesota.

You may have heard about Delsin when he was lost for a night, but his story goes so much deeper than that. It’s about a woman and her beloved pet, their trip from the country to the very big city, and a near-death experience — mixed in with a chiropractor and acupuncture.

Running free on a farm in Western Wisconsin, Delsin and the rest of Anne Nichols’ pack of dogs are in their element. After all, they’re Bernese Mountain Dogs, and they were bred to work.

“Their background is both drafting as well as some droving of cattle,” said Anne.

Delsin, however, is also at home along Main Street in Stillwater.

“He’s much more extroverted than I am,” she says. “I’ve been know just to bring him down to Stillwater to walk him in the strip in Stillwater, because he just has this fan club that wants to say ‘Hi.’ They don’t know who he is or anything, they just want to say ‘Hi.'”

What these fans don’t know is that Delsin is one of the most decorated dogs in the Midwest, a 9-year-old Bernese who’s been winning awards since he was 6 months old, and a grand champion who’s won shows from California to New Jersey and is now getting ready for the big one at Madison Square Garden.

“This isn’t the easiest show,” she said, “but it is the show. It’s the Super Bowl.”

Like many athletes, one way Delsin is getting ready for his big competition is by going to the chiropractor.

Veterinarian Heather Evans adjusts Delsin before all of his big shows, but this time she has some extra work to do. He needs extra adjustments and extra acupuncture treatments, because Delsin took a bit of a side trip.

About a month ago, Desin got lose. He got out a back gate while Anne was watching her nephews at her brother’s house, and got lost in Bloomington.

He was later found safe, but not completely sound, after getting stuck in a fence.

“His muscles were very sore in the shoulders,” said Anne, “his whole back was out, his pelvis was also quite sore.”

Now, he’s on the mend, almost exactly a year after giving Anne another scare. He needed emergency surgery when his stomach twisted and bloated. Only half of dogs survive the surgery, but Delsin did.

In his first show back, he not only won, he became the oldest Bernese ever named Best in Show. That’s when she decided to enter the best show.

“It’s one more adventure that I can take with the dude,” said Nichols.

They’ll be one of the most unusual pairs at the show, which is watched by millions on cable, and features high profile show dogs that tour the country with hired trainers. Very few of the dogs are beloved house pets. And very few of the owners are also trainers.

“You know you think horse racing, you have your pro jockeys,” said Anne. “Well, I’m your non-pro jockey.”

Win or lose, Nichols said this will be Delsin’s last show. He’s already two years older than the life expectancy for Berners. But he loves the spot light of the show ring, and Nichols just wonders how he’ll measure up to the best of the best. So, on Friday, they’ll load up the minivan, and hit the road for a big adventure in the Big Apple.

“How cool … He’s used to walking down Stillwater. Now he gets to walk down Times Square,” said Nichols.

The Westminster Dog Show is Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The 2,000 dogs that qualified are all Champions or Grand Champions, and 17 are from Minnesota.

Watch the previous story.

Comments (15)
  1. Dog lover Up North says:

    Good luck Desin!
    We’ll be barkin for ya!

  2. Sue says:

    Berners are magnificent dogs–gentle giants. Good luck Desin. Best in Show!!!

  3. likesCCO says:

    What a beautiful dog and a great reason to watch the dog show! I’ll be watching and cheering them on!

  4. Anne Nichols says:

    Hi everyone – Anne here – Delsin’s owner! Thanks for your support! Here is Delsin’s blog – I will be blogging our journey to Westminster so people can feel a part of the journey if they wish!

  5. Barb says:

    Anne, Best of luck to you and Delsin. We will be watching and cheering for you. GO DELSIN!!

  6. Andrew says:

    Unfortunately this story featured the low level of skepticism that has become prevalent on WCCO.

    You mention that Delsin is receiving chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture as though they are legitimate treatments, but fail to point out that there is no compelling evidence that they actually work. Or you could have simply not included the nonsense aspect at all. A truly inspiring story about him going to the Westminster show was sadly tainted by pseudoscience and snake-oil.

  7. Anne says:

    Andrew – here is a study done in 2009 on acupuncture. studies are on going with more “proof” coming in. it is fine to be a skeptic, but sad to be cynical as to possibilties. Delsin is in as great of shape as he is because of how I choose to have him treated.

    By: University of Michigan
    Researchers at the University of Michigan Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center are first to provide evidence of acupuncture’s effect on opoid receptors.

    Acupuncture has been used in East-Asian medicine for thousands of years to treat pain, possibly by activating the body’s natural painkillers. But how it works at the cellular level is largely unknown.

    Using brain imaging, a University of Michigan study is the first to provide evidence that traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the brain’s long-term ability to regulate pain. The results appear online ahead of publication in the September issue of Journal of NeuroImage.

    In the study, researchers at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center showed acupuncture increased the binding availability of mu-opoid receptors (MOR) in regions of the brain that process and dampen pain signals – specifically the cingulate, insula, caudate, thalamus and amygdala.

    Opioid painkillers, such as morphine, codeine and other medications, are thought to work by binding to these opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

    “The increased binding availability of these receptors was associated with reductions in pain,” says Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., researcher at the U-M Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center and a research assistant professor of anesthesiology at the U-M Medical School.

    One implication of this research is that patients with chronic pain treated with acupuncture might be more responsive to opioid medications since the receptors seem to have more binding availability, Harris says….

    Reference: Journal of NeuroImage, Volume 47, Issue 3, September 2009, Pages 1077-1085 doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.083

  8. Kerry B. says:

    Congratulations Anne and Delsin on your being reunited and on your next big adventure!

    I’ll be watching Westminster and cheering for you!

    Andrew– I am a veterinary technician and, like you, I was extremely skeptical about chiropractic and acupuncture. I think I called it “quackery”.

    For the past 8 years I’ve been working for an integrative veterinarian (most appropriate combination of holistic and mainstream medicine tailored to the individual). This job has put me in the position of seeing, literally, hundreds of dogs whose quality of life have been greatly improved through chiropractic and/ or acupuncture.

    And now my chiropractor makes a big difference in my quality of life!

    More and more scientific information is coming out regarding the efficacy of these treatments. For many people, chiropractic and acupuncture will only be accepted when the “why” is answered in scientific terms and the more it is discussed in realistic and thoughtful ways the more we can all benefit.

    I don’t know what your experiences have been Andrew, but what I’ve witnessed and personally experienced over the past several years has definitely turned me 180 degrees.

  9. Linda says:

    Nice story but it includes one piece of misinformation. Lots of the dogs going to Westminster are beloved house pets as well as show dogs.

  10. Sa Bryssa says:

    Who doesn’t want a well behaved dog? This can be achieved by no other than dog training training. However, having your pet trained the right way may not be that easy for you. You may have a very busy schedule or you simply don’t have the patience to pull things over. Thus, your ordeal is solved because there are numerous schools that can handle your pet very well.

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