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133rd westminster dog show terrier group
By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY
NEW YORK Stump stumped the crowd and just about every other dog in the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show by winning Best in Show on Tuesday night.
The 10-year-old Sussex spaniel became the oldest Westminster winner in history and the first of his breed to win the silver cup. In one of the most stunning results in recent Westminster history, Stump came out of retirement to win his first show in four years. Owner-handler Scott Sommer decided last Wednesday to bring Stump to the big show, just for fun.
Needless to say, there was no pressure or expectations. "This was like going for a walk with my pet," Sommer said.
Stump won the Sporting Group in 2004; the next year he nearly died after a serious ailment. "His insides stopped working," Sommer said. Stump spent 19 days with veterinarians at Texas A&M, who saved his life. "A miracle," Sommer said. He could have been talking about both feats.
There was no preparation other than a walk around Sommer's Houston driveway, quite different from the green carpet and bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
Judge Sari Tietjen didn't know who Stump was or his age when she pointed to him. "I just couldn't say no to him," Tietjen said. "He is in fabulous shape."
As for Sommer? "To bring a dog into the Garden who hasn't been showing, he was a little insane," Tietjen said. In 2001, Sommer won Best in Show with J.R. a Bichon Frise, and the two champs are buddies.
When Stump plodded around the ring, the Garden crowd erupted. He celebrated his victory by standing on his back legs and the crowd loved him even more. By winning the prestigious show, Stump proved you can teach an old dog new tricks.
His next one? No more comebacks. "He really is retired this time," Sommer said.
With floppy ears and a slow gait, the golden-red Stump beat out a sparkling final field. Sommer guided him past a giant schnauzer that was the nation's top show dog, a favored Brussels griffon, a Scottish deerhound named Tiger Woods, a standard poodle with 94 best in show wins, a Scottish terrier and a puli.
Nearly 2,500 dogs were entered at Westminster. Last year's champion, a beagle named Uno, was perhaps the most popular winner ever.
But with a bounce in his step, Stump is sure to win over plenty of people while he reigns for a year and gets extra playtime with his green Grinch toy.
In Toy story, Lincoln stands tall
On the lapel of her jacket, owner Evalyn Gregory wore a button with a picture of her dog, Lincoln, the Brussels Griffon, wearing an Abraham Lincoln top hat.
It was befitting of a top dog. Lincoln won the Toy Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
"He's just a very cool dog," handler Paul Catterson said of Ch. Cilleine Masquerade.
What makes him special? "Everything," Catterson said. "His personality; he loves everyone. He thinks he's tough, like his breed is supposed to be."
Gregory, who is from Louisville, made up the buttons as a nod to the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. Even though he shares his name with a U.S. president, Lincoln is an English import, so named because he comes from Lincolnshire County.
In 1997, Brussels Griffons were thrust into the spotlight in the Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets. According to Lincoln's co-owner, Anne Jahelka, Hollywood got the portrayal of the dog just right.
In the movie, the sense of humor of the Brussels Griffon, Verdell, keeps Nicholson's obsessive-compulsive character in check. "They're endearing," Jahelka says of the breed.
Verdell would be proud: 4-year-old Lincoln has won 66 Best in Show honors, becoming the top dog in the breed's history. It's even rarer for a smooth-coated Brussels Griffon since most of the previous winners have had coarse coats.
"It's like getting too many presents in one big box," Gregory said of his accomplishment Tuesday night.
The regal Giant Schnauzer Spirit might have been the No. 1 dog in the country last year, but the word that best describes the 4-year-old is "naughty," handler Taffe McFadden says.
At home, Spirit loves to ransack the hamper. Once she steals dirty laundry, she deposits the clothes around the house, seemingly just before company is about to visit. The seven cats at home are about as safe as the laundry.
"She's named Spirit for good reason," McFadden says of Ch. Galilee's Pure of Spirit, who has won 91 Best in Shows and was winner of the Working Group.
Spirit will retire this year and probably spend the rest of her days making mischief at McFadden's California home. McFadden and her husband, Bill, are two of the top handlers in the sport; their Kerry Blue Terrier Mick won Westminster's Best in Show in 2003.
The first family has narrowed its dog choices to Labradoodle, a mix of a Labrador retriever and a poodle, and a Portuguese water dog. According to insiders in the Portie world, the Obamas' new pup will be a Portuguese water dog. The pup, though, has not been born.
"They're funny, extremely intelligent and like to behave like a 5-year-old. They like to test you," says Rick Krieger, an owner and longtime Portie breeder.