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Published February 15. 2011 05:00PM

Two years ago, a devastating fire virtually put Karen Tracy of Franklin Township out of business.

Tracy owned a boarding kennel and bred chow chow dogs. Among the people with whom she did business was TV diva Martha Stewart.

The fire leveled the kennels, killed many of her purebred chow chows including one that Martha Stewart owned, and left Tracy not only with the task of rebuilding but very high veterinary bills.

Tracy never quit. She continued breeding chow chows. Among the dogs she owns is Maddox, a splendid dog that has been shown twice in the past at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Madison Square Garden, in New York City.

Maddox wasn't at the kennels when the explosion happened.

There have been other dogs shown at Westminster over the years, but Tracy always felt there was something special about Maddox. Yesterday, Maddox proved Tracy right.

Maddox won the "Best of Breed" award for chow chow dogs at Westminster. The buff-colored champion, whose registered name is Liontamer's Dial 1-800-Hotsuff, gave Tracy one of her greatest moments of of showing dogs. He also demonstrated that Tracy is a true professional and hopefully she can rebuild her business to the level it was before the fire.

Tracy had built her kennel business from scratch. She had few financial resources, but worked hard to make it a success.

Her reputation at handling dogs and housing them at her kennels was widespread.

Although the fire nearly succeeded in destroying her passion, Tracy persevered. Maddox, who happens to be a grandson to one of the dogs Martha Stewart had obtained from Tracy, was one of the incentives for her to push forward.

Before leaving for Westminster over the weekend, Tracy said this will be the last time Maddox is entered in the Madison Square Garden event. What a grand finale!

The champion was handled at the Garden show by Jan Kolnik of Palmerton, a long-time friend of Tracy. Kolnik has spent long hours working with Maddox.

The showing at the Garden proved that Tracy knows dogs and knows them well. Especially chow chows.

Congratulations to Tracy, Kolnik, and especially Maddox.

By Ron Gower

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