Standard poodle wins top honor
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Siba the standard poodle won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Tuesday night.
With the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting for Daniel the popular golden retriever, judge Bob Slay instead picked the perfectly primped and poised black poodle.
Poodles come in three sizes and this was the 10th time one of them has become America’s top dog.
Bourbon the whippet finished second. Also in the best-of-seven final ring was Bono the Havanese, Wilma the boxer, Conrad the Shetland sheepdog, Wilma the boxer and Vinny the wire fox terrier.
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A wire fox terrier named Vinny was named the top terrier at the show to advance to the final round.
“It’s an absolute thrill,” handler Robert Carusi said.
Vinny is the latest in a long line of wire fox terriers to enjoy success at the nation’s premier dog show.
The breed has notched more Westminster best in show wins than any other. A wire fox terrier named King won just last year.
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Wilma the boxer yabba-dabba-did it again.
Wilma got to the final round of the show for a second year in a row. Striding with pride to win the working group, Wilma earned a chance to compete for best in show.
The 4-year-old dog from Aubrey, Texas, is named after the character Wilma in “The Flintstones.” Her registered name is Cinnibon’s Bedrock Bombshell — after Bedrock, the city where the cartoon Flintstones lived.
The working group is an array of often large dogs that historically guarded homes and livestock, pulled sleds and fishing nets, and did other work.
Another dog that got a spin in the working group ring was Titus, a bullmastiff that made a remarkable comeback after being bitten by a snake last March.
For a time, the 3-year-old dog was in danger of losing his back left leg, and he still has a large scar. But he recovered and won his breed at Westminster for the first time Tuesday.
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To huge cheers from the crowd at Madison Square Garden, Daniel, a golden retriever, qualified for the fi nals as the best dog in the sporting group. He beat out pooches that included spaniels, retrievers, setters and other dogs traditionally involved in hunting.
A golden retriever had not won since the Westminster show began in 1877.
That’s long been a source of frustration for their many fans. Goldens are the third most popular breed in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club.
Daniel has many show wins to his credit, but handler Karen Mammano says “nothing’s like Westminster.”
“It’s our Super Bowl,” she said after the dog from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, won the group and leaped up on her to celebrate.
Four other group winners were selected Monday night. The terrier and working groups remain to be judged before all the group winners face off for best in show.
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When Sabrina Giardina was asked a few years ago to raise and show a great Dane puppy, the experienced Dane owner didn’t equivocate.
“No. I will not do that. I don’t know how to do that,” she said.
But about three years later, Giardina was cheering on her dog Margot at the big show.
It was the culmination of an unexpected, nearly three-year detour into the dog show world for Giardina, husband Michael and their family. The Giardinas agreed to take on and show puppy Margot after her intended owner fell ill, and the dog’s breeder helped them learn what they needed to do.
After all the training, baths, conditioning (including nightly treadmill sessions for Margot in the weeks before Westminster) and showing up to shows in all weather, Margot is a champion and retiring after her turn Tuesday in the great Dane ring at Westminster.
“It’s bittersweet for us … It was a nice journey, but it’s a lot of work,” Sabrina Giardina said. But for Margot, “it’s a celebration now — she’s a pet.”
She’ll celebrate with a special treat. The family planned to get her a cannoli from New York’s Little Italy neighborhood on the way home to suburban Oyster Bay.
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Snakebit no more!
Titus the bullmastiff won best of breed at the show to advance to the working group stage at the Gardeen.
That capped a remarkable comeback for 3-year-old Titus, who was in danger of losing his back left leg last March. That’s when something got a piece of gentle Titus in the North Carolina brush — co-owner Cassandra Carpenter thought it was a pygmy rattlesnake, veterinarian Jess Hunter said it could’ve been a copperhead.
Titus’ leg turned red, purple and black and swelled nearly twice its size. But he’s recovered, and topped 16 entries in the breed round.
Titus still has a large, dark scar and Carpenter said judges occasionally ask about it. After this showing, she’ll certainly has quite a story to tell.
“This is my first breed win,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
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While purebred dogs round the rings at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, animal-rights activists are also trying to make an impression.
A small group protested outside the building where dogs from great Danes to cocker spaniels vied to be named best in their breeds and advance to the competition’s next round.
The protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations that the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has organized at the show over the years.
The demonstrators say it’s callous to breed, buy or sell dogs when shelters are full of canines up for adoption.
“Anyone who visits your local shelter and faces the dogs who are desperately needing homes would understand why PETA is here every year,” said associate director Ashley Byrne.
The protesters also say purebred aficionados are too focused on dogs’ appearance, rather than their health. They point, for example, to breathing difficulties that can beset flat-faced breeds.
An inquiry was sent to a Westminster spokeswoman about the protest.
The American Kennel Club, a governing body for dog shows including Westminster, has said responsible breeders prioritize dogs’ health. The club defends dog breeding as a way to preserve dogs developed for certain functions and traits and to help people find the right dog for them.