Dana Perino, co-host of Fox News’ “The Five” – the most-watched cable news show for the month of October – and former White House press secretary to President George W. Bush, brought Hillsboro to the national spotlight when she was in town Sunday to pick up her new puppy, Percy, from Highfield Vizslas.
Perino lost her beloved vizsla Jasper to cancer in September. Known affectionately as America’s dog, Jasper was a frequent fixture on ‘The Five” and “America’s Newsroom” and news of his passing was widely covered by competing networks.
Percy, also a vizsla, is 7 weeks old and made his debut on “The Five” Monday.
During Percy’s appearance, Perino thanked Carol Lehmann of Highfield Vizslas and Donell Scott from Plaza Vizslas in Etna, Ohio.
Perino learned of Hillsboro’s Highfield Vizslas through Jeffrey Arnold, who contacted her after Jasper passed away. Lehmann was recommended to her as a wonderful breeder. Percy’s sire, Royce, came from Plaza Vizslas.
“Percy got a great start in Hillsboro with the fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and caring people,” said Perino. “Hillsboro is a wonderful town. It seemed like a great place to grow up. There was a sense of community and pride and American patriotism that inspired us. We had a short but wonderful visit — we’d love to return one day. We will always think of Hillsboro with joy and gratitude.”
Lehmann was a fan of Perino before the two met because of Percy. “Oh, yes, of course, I’ve been watching ‘The Five’ for years, and I watch Fox News all the time,” said Lehmann. “She’s [Perino] lovely, and she really is very, very nice. She and her husband both flew out here in a chartered plane into Wilmington and brought two friends with them,” said Lehmann.
Arnold, who bought a vizsla from a fellow breeder of Lehman’s, Scott of Plaza Vizslas, reached out to Perino’s husband, Peter McMahan, when he learned of Jasper’s passing.
“He went on LinkedIn and got Peter’s information and emailed him and said he knew of where he could get a very nice puppy,” said Lehmann. “He said, ‘When you’re ready, and if you are interested, to contact him.’”
It didn’t take long for Lehmann to get the call. “Well, Peter called immediately, and then of course, this young man [Arnold] gave Donell’s number to Peter, and of course Donell knew about my litter, so Peter called Donell and right away wanted the puppy,” said Lehmann. “So, she got the puppy from me, and he was the pick of the litter. Royce is a grand champion. He’s a beautiful dog. They actually purchased the puppy before the puppy was even born.”
Vzslas, the national dog of Hungary, were prized by Hungarian aristocrats for their intelligence and acumen as field dogs.
“The original vizsla dog was yellow, but they bred them to the red Swiss Hound because the Swiss Hound had a nose as good as a bloodhound and that’s where the vizslas get their beautiful red color,” said Lehmann.
Lehmann’s breed stems from a kennel in Nebraska, and her original dog from the kennel was a very dark rust color. “Now, to get this dark rust color that I am lucky to have is kind of rare,” she said. “I don’t know whether you’ve seen Percy, but he is very dark. Most of the vizslas are a little bit lighter in color.”
“Anyway, it was quite a thrill, and she [Perino] loves that breed,” Lehmann added.
Lehmann said Percy was named after a friend of McMahan. McMahon is from the United Kingdom and worked at a pub in Northern England when he was 18.
“Peter, years ago, would go to the pub and there was a World War I veteran named Percy he remembered and wanted to name the dog Percy,” said Lehmann.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.