Looking Back: The 1983 Westminster Kennel Club Show

Go back in history more than 30 years to the 1983 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Dates: February 14-15, 1983

Number of Entries/Dogs: 2,662/2,621 in 137 breeds

Best in Show Winner: Afghan Hound Ch. Kabiks The Challenger, breeder/owner-handled by Chris Terrell, and co-owned by Marguerite Terrell

Group 1sts: Vizsla Ch. Harann’s Tulipann, owned by Charles Spalding and Ann Denehy (Sporting Group); Great Dane Ch. C & B’s Special-K Gribben, owned by J. and F. Campbell, and J. and M. Benjamin (Working Group); Sealyham Terrier Ch. Snowdon Sneak Preview, owned by Sarah W. Sweatt (Terrier Group); Shih Tzu Ch. Lou Wan Rebel Yell, owned by Lou and Wanda Goc (Toy Group); Bulldog Ch. Lodel’s Hi Jacker of Kralan, owned by Nan S. Burke (Non-Sporting Group); Belgian Tervuren Ch. Corsair’s Beaujangles, owned by Steve Sorenson (Herding Group).

Best in Show Judge: Derek Rayne

The 1983 Westminster Kennel Club dog show’s attendance was high despite Winter Storm Janus, the worst snowstorm New York had seen in 40 years. Fifty-two percent of dogs entered were champions, and judge Derek Rayne took only 14 minutes in the Best in Show ring before pointing to Afghan Hound Ch. Kabiks The Challenger as Best in Show. As of 2015, Chris Terrell’s 1983 champion is still the most recent breeder/owner-handled win. ‘Pepsi,’ as he was called, was the second Afghan Hound to win the Garden. The first was 1957’s winner Ch. Shirkhan of Grandeur, who appears in Pepsi’s pedigree several times.

This year’s show was chock full of silly and strange events. During a lull between Groups, the “Garden cat,”dispatched to control Madison Square Garden’s rat problem, slunk across the arena, causing quite a stir. A Basset Hound got its head wrinkles caught in its crate and let everybody know, howling pitifully; although its owners were unable to be found, it was released by others and unhurt. Finally, after a dog exhibited odd behavior (jumping up and tearing his owner’s coat), the owner claimed the dog must have been poisoned.However, he declined Chairman Chester Collier’s offer to have the dog’s blood tested. Other exhibitors claimed the owner drugged the dog himself with some sort of “pep pill.”

The Working Group winner, Great Dane Ch. C. & B’s Special K Gribben, was shown by Lina Basquette, a former silent film actress who became a well-known dog breeder in her later years. The dog was a crowd favorite both at this year’s show and the year before.


Other Historical Events of 1983

  • Swatch introduces its first watches.
  • Sally Ride breaks two records aboard the June 18 Space Shuttle Challenger launch. She becomes the first American woman and youngest American astronaut to visit space.
  • Tom Brokaw becomes lead anchor for NBC Nightly News.
  • McDonald’s introduces the McNugget.
  • The first mobile phones are introduced to the public by the Motorola Company and cost almost $4,000.



A General History of the Westminster Dog Show

In the 1870s, a group of New York City sporting dog enthusiasts would get together in a hotel bar in Manhattan to talk about dogs. They called their group The Westminster Breeding Association, named after the hotel, and helped stage a dog show in Philadelphia celebrating the nation’s centennial. After changing the name to the Westminster Kennel Club, they held a dog show in 1877 in the Hippodrome at Gilmore’s Garden in New York City. For almost 140 consecutive years, the show has been held in New York City every February. The Westminster Kennel Club Show is one of the oldest continuous sporting events in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby, and is the oldest dog show in the United States. The coveted title of Best in Show wasn’t awarded until 1907, when it went to a Smooth Fox Terrier that also won the next two years. The show’s first television broadcast was in 1948. Westminster is one of the only benched shows in the United States, drawing large crowds to see all of the dogs entered.

Read More

See the Westminster winners of 1935>>

See the Westminster winners of 1964>>

See the Westminster winners of 1988>>

See the Westminster winners from 2003 to the Present>>

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