“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime dog,” Clute said, adding he’s also playful: “He’s a blast. He bites my feet and licks my ears.”
Now, it’s on to the sporting, working and terrier groups Tuesday. And sometime around 11 p.m., we’ll find out who becomes the nation’s top dog.
» A white powder puff called Flynn is going to the final best in show ring at Westminster.
Winners were crowned in the herding, hound, toy and non-sporting groups on Monday night. The sporting, working and terrier groups take center stage Tuesday. And sometime around 11 p.m. ET, the nation’s top dog will be awarded.
The jolly, jaunty bichon frise has won the nonsporting group and now will have a 1-in-7 chance at the top prize Tuesday night.
Star handler Bill McFadden says Madison Square Garden is a tough place to show because of the crowd noise and energy. And, he says the green carpet is “pokey” on a dog’s feet.
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“For me, you just have to kind of go Zen. Because they’ll pick up on any nerves you have so you just have to hold it inside and not let them know that you’re excited or nervous,” he says.
A Norwegian lundehund was itching to show. She kept stopping to scratch her ear and back while she was parading around the ring, drawing laughs from all around the arena.
» Biggie the pug has taken the toy group at the Westminster dog show. Always popular at Madison Square Garden, this little guy was a crowd favorite, drawing a shout of “Go, Biggie!” as he strutted around the ring.
– OK, great. Thank you so much. Well, congratulations. They say when you go to a show, act like you've been here before. You actually have. But how does it feel to be winning the group again this year?
Handler Esteban Farias says pugs are wonderful, fun and loyal. Plus, he says this breed has another endearing trait.
Should Slick ultimately prevail, it would be one of the biggest upsets ever at Westminster. Rumor the German shepherd represented the herding group in 2017 and wound up winning Best in Show, but the only other win for the group came in 1987, which was also a German shepherd.
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Farias says Biggie has filled a void in his life after a previous pug pal suddenly died during a routine walk.
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“We have a little friend up in heaven, Mr. Rumble, who helped us win,” he said.
Biggie earned a spot along with Lucy the elegant borzoi in the final ring of seven for best in show Tuesday night.
History isn’t on Flynn’s side when he looks to the next stage of the competition. In addition to the big drought for Bichon Frises, a dog from the non-sporting group last won Best in Show in 2002, when Spice the miniature poodle reigned supreme.
Nearly 2,900 dogs in 202 breed and varieties were entered at the 142nd Westminster event.
Two years after she finished second at America’s top dog show, Lucy the borzoi won the hound group. She’s sleek and elegant, but this show biz stuff is just “a game to her,” handler Valerie Nunes-Atkinson says.
Lucy also is athletic — Nunes-Atkinson says she can easily sprint up to 30 to 40 mph.
Individual breeds are judged during the day on Monday and Tuesday, with the winners of each moving on to the group competitions at night. Dogs are divided into seven groups – hound, toy, nonsporting, herding, working, sporting and terrier.
A bloodhound made the final cut of hounds and got “a piece of the group,” as dog people say. He was flashy, too, wearing a spangled warmup jacket outside the ring. No one was going to tell him he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.
And, yes, there was a dog named Elvis in the ring a few minutes later. He was an Italian greyhound in the toy group.
Madison Square Garden is mostly full and lively as night-time competition has started in the groups. The hounds are up first, followed by the toys, nonsporting and herding dogs.
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Monkey the basset hound was an instant crowd favorite, the way he looked as if he was ready to fall asleep while being checked by the judge. Magnum the 15-inch beagle was a typical beagle, not really wanting to walk in a straight line.
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The Ibizan hound seemed more interested in smelling the potted flowers in front of her, rather than surveying her competitors. And the harrier was definitely determined to pick up any treats the greyhound handler next door might accidentally drop.
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» Looks like you’ve got to have Heart to win the Westminster Kennel Club dog show obedience championship.
A Labrador retriever named Heart and handler Linda Brennan won the competition Monday for the third year in a row. That’s every year the contest has been held.
About two dozen dogs competed. The event includes elaborate, six-minute routines.
Biggie, a pug, is shown in the ring during the Toy group competition during the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Biggie won best in group. (Mary Altaffer/Associate Press)
Brennan is an obedience trainer from Columbia, New Jersey. She says Heart “really sparkles in this particular setting,” in front of crowds at the nation’s premier dog show.
» For some breeders at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the sport is a family tradition. For Louise Brooks-Lowe and Stacey Hawkes, it was a bucket-list item.
After being laid off from their information technology jobs in 2007, the Londoners asked themselves what they wanted to do with their lives.
So they researched. They launched their kennel, Pugalicious, in 2008. Four years later, their pug Mac won his breed at Crufts.
On Monday, they were at Westminster to see of Mac’s grandsons, Humphrey, compete. He’s owned by Heidi Merkli of Ottawa, the Canadian capital.
As for the bucket list, Brooks-Lowe says “the dogs have pretty much taken that over.”
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» Patricia Hearst-Shaw has picked up another prize at Westminster, an award of merit for a French bulldog she co-owns called Tuggy.
Her Frenchies have done well here in the past and often have been “in the ribbons,” as dog fanciers like to say.
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Hearst sat ringside for the breed judging, a day after CNN debuted the start of its docuseries on the famed heiress titled “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst.”
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» A German shepherd that survived a brutal highway accident a few years is out of Westminster, and his show career might be over.
Fanucci was unable to walk into the ring Monday, the first day of two days of America’s most prestigious dog show.
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His owners think he might have been nipped by a playful puppy recently, or perhaps he shook his ear too hard and broke a blood vessel.
The 5-year-old was considered by many the nation’s top German shepherd. But his left ear, the one closest to the judge, bubbled up and knocked him out of the competition.
The 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Fanucci’s right rear leg was shattered in 2014 when he jumped out of a van that was being towed. He was injured so badly his owners considered euthanizing him.