See Westminster 2012 show information here. The most famous show in the United States is well known in the dog fancy as an arena where the unexpected can be expected. Monday night’s Group winners and placements once again proved the rule as a number of consistent winning top dogs did not garner top prizes and a few lesser known newcomers moved to the front of the line-up. The crowd on Tuesday night expected no less from the four distinguished judges who officiated over the final three variety groups and Best in Show competition. All three of tonight’s group judges, like last night’s quartet, have judged Best in Show at Westminster, making this year’s panel of judges uniquely qualified and more than remarkable.
Judging the Sporting Group, James Reynolds of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, a popular all-breed judge in the U.S. on his tenth Westminster assignment, had the privilege of selecting BIS in 2006.
Reynolds’s Group selections tonight were Group first, the black Cocker Spaniel, GCh. Casablanca Thrilling Seduction, owned by Bruce Vandeman, Carolee Douglas, Mary Walker, Cindy Cassidy and Linda Moore, handled by Linda Pitts, one of the nation’s top Sporting dogs; Group second, the Irish Setter, Ch. Jewelset’s Up Up N Away, a nine-year-old veteran owned by Sharon Reilly, Kim Velletri, Julie Waters and Jeff Arch; Group third, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, GCh. Fireside’s Spontaneous Combustion, owned by John Coughlin and breeder Elaine Hunsicker, handled by Michelle Scott; and Group fourth, the Irish Water Spaniel, GCh. Poole’s Ide Got Water, owned by Stacy Duncan, Colleen McDaniel, Cathy Shelby and breeder Gregory Siner.
Judging the Working Group, Dorothy Collier of Wellington, Fla, originally a Komondor breeder who became a judge in the early 1980s, judged BIS at the Garden in 1997.
Mrs. Collier’s selections were Group first, the Portuguese Water Dog, GCh. Aviators Luck Be A Lady, owned by Victor Malzoni Jr, Jerson Valle, and Mike and Kathy Dugan, handled by Amy Rutherford, the top-winning PWD of all time; Group second, for the third consecutive year, the Boxer, GCh. Winfall Brookwood Styled Dream, owned by Debbie McCarroll, Mark Fagan, Mrs. Jack Billhardt and Sergio Tennenbaum, handled by Diego Fernando Garcia; Group third, the Kuvasz, GCh. Szumeria’s Wildwood Silver Six Pence, owned by Mercedes Vila, C. Muir and breeders Lynn Brady and Constance Townsend; and Group fourth, the cleverly named Samoyed, Ch. McMagic’s Candied Ham of Pebblesrun (daughter of “Hammy Davis Jr”), owned by handler Andrew Green, Amy Green, and breeder Patti McCallum.
Judging the Terrier Group, Edd Biven of Fort Worth, Texas, on his 19th Westminster judging assignment, more than any other living judge. Biven judged BIS at Westminster in 1999.
A surprise entrant in the Terrier Group tonight, handled by Margery Good, was the six-year-old Sealyham Terrier Ch. Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice, known to all as “Charmin,” who came out of retirement to compete for one last Westminster. The 2008 Westminster Group winner has also won Best in Show at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (2007), Montgomery County Terrier Show and the World Dog Show in Stockholm, Sweden (2008), and the Crufts Dog Show (2009). Charmin is the top Sealyham of all-time and was the No. 1 Terrier for two consecutive years.
Judges at dog shows, however, do not take previous wins into consideration, and each dog is judged on the day (or night!). Indeed the rings at Madison Square Garden have been filled with dozens of multiple-Best-in-Show winners for the past two days, many of whom did not make it into the finals.
Biven indeed pulled the Sealyham for his final line-up, but his final four included: Group first, the Smooth Fox Terrier, GCh. Slyfox Sneak’s A Peak, owned by J W Smith, and handled by Eddie Boyes, the number-two Smooth Fox Terrier and number-two Terrier of 2010; Group second, the Norfolk Terrier, GCh. Cracknor Cross The Ts, owned by Pamea Beale, breeder Elisabeth Matell and handler Beth Sweigart; Group third, the Skye Terrier, GCh. Cragsmoor Buddy Goodman, owned by Carolyn Koch and Victor Malzoni Jr, handled by Larry Cornelius, one of 2010’s top Terriers; and Group fourth, the West Highland White Terrier, Ch. Blythefell Ferbus, owned by Carol Hugnagle, handled by Chrystal Murray.
Tonight’s Best in Show judge, Paolo Dondina of Monterchi, Italy, is the first Italian to take on this prestigious assignment and only the fifth non-American in the history of the show. He has bred or owned and handled 11 different breeds throughout his career. In March of this year, Dondina is scheduled to judge Best in Show at the equally prestigious Crufts Dog Show in England, becoming the first person in history to ever judge BIS at the world’s two most important dog shows in the same year.
And then there were seven. Each of the final seven dogs was spotlighted as it entered the darkened center ring, greeted by thunderous applause from a near-filled Madison Square Garden: representing the Sporting Group, the black Cocker Spaniel; the Hound Group, the Scottish Deerhound; the Working Group, the Portuguese Water Dog; the Terrier Group, the Smooth Fox Terrier; the Toy Group, the Pekingese; the Non-Sporting Group, the Chinese Shar-Pei; and the Herding Group, the Bearded Collie. Four of these seven breeds have never won BIS at Westminster, so perhaps another historical first is in the making.
For the record, the last black Cocker to win at Westminster was the famed Ch. My Own Brucie, who won back to back shows in 1940 and 1941. The last Pekingese to win at the Garden was Ch. Wendessa Crown Prince in 1990, selected by Frank Sabella, who judged the Toy Group last night. The only two Smooth Fox Terriers to win at Westminster did so in the first two years of BIS awards: Ch. Warren Remedy, three consecutive BIS awards from 1907-1909, the first and only dog to ever accomplish this feat, followed by Ch. Sabine Rarebit in 1910.
Dondina was given a microphone and graciously acknowledged all of the quality dogs in the line-up and selected the winner of the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as the Scottish Deerhound, a first for this ancient sighthound breed. GCh. Foxcliffe Hickory Wind was handled by Angela Lloyd, one of 2010’s Winkee nominees for Handler of the Year. “Hickory” was bred by Dr. R. Scott and Cecilia Dove.
It’s always a bonus when history is made at this historic event. The Scottish Deerhound bitch who claimed the top prize is typey and elegant, and showed in a natural, unexaggerated way; her correctness in style and type were rewarded by an astute, internationally respected judge.
Andrew DePrisco is the Editorial Director and Vice President of Kennel Club Books. Allan Reznik is the Editor-at-Large for Dog World and DOG FANCY magazines, and Editor-in-Chief for Dogs in Review magazine.