Terriers Rule at Westminster Dog Show
Feb. 15, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) _ With a twinkle in her eye, Coco tore up the green carpet at Madison Square Garden.
Back on familiar turf, the 6 1/2-year-old Norfolk terrier looked every bit a champion Monday night at the Westminster dog show. And why not?
Beaten last year as a top favorite by a big, barking Newfoundland, little Coco took off six months to have three puppies _ Tom, Dick and Harry _ before returning to this ring for one last go-round.
``She never stops trying,'' handler Beth Sweigart said.
Officially known as Ch. Cracknor Cause Celebre, Coco won the terrier group for the second straight year and earned one of the coveted seven spots for best in show judging.
America's most prestigious canine show also produced some surprises.
A Great Pyrenees called Fame was best among the working dogs and a Tibetan terrier named Baloo was tops in the non-sporting class. They were the first of their breed to win those groups.
Breeder Karen Justin certainly was not expecting Fame to do so well. She didn't even have tickets for the final night. Co-owner and handler Karen Bruneau liked her chances with the dog fondly referred to as animated snowdrift.
``He has a look that pierces the soul,'' Bruneau said.
A wobbling Pekingese called Jeffrey took the tough toy group, beating out a pert Pomeranian co-owned by Bill Cosby and a fancy-cut toy poodle that was the No. 1 show dog in the United States. Coleman the poodle was born in Japan and yes, he responds to commands in both languages.
The sporting, hound and herding groups were to be judged Tuesday night, with the sterling silver bowl to be presented to the best in show shortly before 11 p.m.
Greg Louganis, Glenn Close and the first sellout crowd in Westminster history watched the 2,581 entries in 165 breeds and varieties.
A newcomer to the show, a Neapolitan mastiff weighing nearly 190 pounds drew a loud reaction when his massive wrinkles shook.
Chihuahuas have been coming to Westminster for a lot longer, and they've never won.
A little guy with the prophetic name of I Believe I Can Fly fell short this time. He's of the long hair variety, not the smooth coat popularized by those Taco Bell commercials and carried around by Paris Hilton.
``They're not taken seriously,'' said Jim Lehman, a handler of smooth coats.
Then again, many of the country's most popular breeds are in the Westminster doghouse. Dalmations, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, beagles, Dachshunds _ none of them have ever taken this best in show title.
Instead, it's those terriers _ wire fox terriers, smooth fox terriers, Kerry blue terriers, Scottish terriers and Norwich terriers. Overall, they've won 43 of 96 times.
``They're just such showy dogs,'' said Jackie Thatcher, who brought her wire fox from Texas to the Garden. ``They just say, 'Look at me!'''
Not so for many others, at least when it comes to making the final cut _ most of those canines are considered ``honest'' dogs, meaning they don't rely on snazzy trimming.
Labrador retrievers have been the most popular purebred dogs in America for 15 straight years _ 146,692 were registered in 2004, according to the American Kennel Club. Golden retrievers were next at 52,550.
At Westminster, their combined best in show total is a little lower: zero.
``No, it's not fair,'' said Sue Ellen Manning, who breeds Labs. ``The crowd loves the little toys. We're not a glamour breed.
``We're too laid-back, too happy-go-lucky. They won't fight for it.''