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Tag: best in show

140th Westminster Dog Show was Frei’s last

A German shorthaired pointer took top honors, David Frei emitted his final bursts of color commentary and journalists waxed poetic — some more poetic than others — as the 140th Westminster Kennel Clug Dog Show came to a close in New York last night.

In the second longest running sporting event in America (after the Kentucky Derby), Best in Show was won by a three-year-old pointer named California Journey, or CJ. He beat out a shih tzu, a bulldog, a borzoi, a Samoyed, a Skye terrier and a German shepherd that had been said to be the favorite.

Or, to put it as briefly as possible: GSP beats out GSD for BIS.

cjAs usual, the event included much pomp and pompousness, and resulted in news coverage that ranged from pandering to ponderous, from the overly simple to the overly wrought.

CNN International summed up the contest this way:

“The competition was ruff at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.”

A Washington Post writer exercised his writing muscles a little more. Make that a lot more:

In the dark forests of 19th century Europe, man was hungry, and wanted meat. Having escaped the horrors of the Second Millennium — the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Black Death — to emerge from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment with a taste for democracy and venison, our species found that hunting was no longer the privilege of the aristocracy, but the passion of the masses. And, hunting game o’er hill and dale, lord and laborer alike knew they needed a best friend to facilitate their hotblooded pursuit of winged birds and many-pointed stag. But what beast — swift of foot, singleminded in its chase after even the faintest scent of prey — could best serve?

Enter the German Shorthaired Pointer — Europe’s premier hunting dog, as one enthusiast put it, that is “born to run … born to reign.” And the GSP, centuries after the breed was first developed, certainly reigned Tuesday night at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York, where California Journey, a.k.a. CJ, a prime specimen if there ever was one, took Best in Show, the contest’s top honor.

…The field at Madison Square Garden, not unlike Thermopylae after the storied 300 Spartans met their end, was strewn with the bodies of CJ’s worthy adversaries. More than 2,700 creatures, with comers from all 50 states and the wider world, thought they had the stuff to be, to coin a phrase, Top Dog. There was My Sassy Girl, a Borzoi bitch from Japan. There was Charlie the Skye terrier, from Oyster Bay, N.Y. There was Play It Again Ham, a Samoyed from Readington Township, N.J. — steady and inscrutable as the fluffy, cotton ball-shaped rock weathered the media frenzy.

Sounds almost like he was auditioning for David Frei’s job.

It was the last Westminster that will feature Frei, the much beloved color commentator who — unlike many commentators — actually knows what he is talking about.

Frei will continue to provide commentary for the National Dog Show in Philadelphia.

His resignation from Westminster was prompted by the club’s insistence that his commentary be exclusive to it.

(Photo of CJ by Mary Altaffer, AP)

Beagle takes top honors at Westminster

Miss P, a 15-inch beagle, and handler William Alexander, react after winning the Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) ORG XMIT: MSG215

A beagle named Miss P beat out a shih tzu owned by Patty Hearst, a Portuguese water dog related to Sunny Obama and four other finalists to capture best in show honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Miss P, whose full name is “Ch Tashtins Looking for Trouble,” is only the second beagle to win best in show at Westminster.

The 4-year-old beagle from British Columbia will retire after the victory, but not before embarking on a whirlwind media tour that includes a stop atop the Empire State Building, steak lunch at a nearby restaurant, a meeting with Donald Trump, and a walk-on part in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, USA Today reported.

rocketAmong the other dogs competing for best in show was a shih tzu named Rocket,  co-owned by kidnapped newspaper heiress, convicted bank robber and actress Patty Hearst.

Rocket was awarded top honors in the toy dog category.

Hearst is the granddaughter of William Randolph Hears. She was kidnapped by the radical group the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, and was later seen holding a machine gun while robbing a California bank. She spent two years in prison.

pattyHer sentence was commuted by President Carter, and President Clinton gave her a full pardon.

Hearst, who turns 61 on Friday, is one of Rocket’s three co-owners. She has been involved in the dog show world for more than 10 years and has also worked as an actress.

A cousin of Sunny, one of the First Family’s Portuguese water dogs, was also in the running, and considered by some to be a favorite.

Matisse won the working group category for the third straight year.

More results, photos and videos can be found at the Westminster website.

(Photo: Photos of Miss P and Rocket by the Associated Press)

The Osama Bone Laden chew toy for dogs

Here’s a new dog treat even more tasteless than the Michael Vick chew toy.

A San Francisco pet boutique is selling Osama Bone Laden, a stuffed likeness of the slain terrorist that contains a rawhide chew inside.

The website of Best in Show, a trendy pet boutique located in the city’s Castro district, describes it this way:

“The revolutionary, patent pending, dog toy with a yummy rawhide chew bone sewn inside. If you have a dog that tears apart every toy, this is for them! Now, instead of a plastic squeaker you throw away, your dog can enjoy the chew bone for hours or days.”

I’m not sure if the manufacturer drew inspiration from reports that a military dog was along on the surprise assault that left bin Laden dead, but if so, they didn’t waste any time getting the product on the market.

Priced at $6.95, the chew toy depicts the al Qaeda leader wielding a sword and a bandage on his head that says, “Ouch, I’m Ready to Fight.”

Afraid I’ll have to give it a thumbs down, more for reasons moral than practical — though all that fabric would seem to pose choking hazards.

Hunting down bin Laden was one thing, killing him was another. But all the chest thumping, celebrating and bad late night TV jokes, I think, are a little sickening, and a little more shallow and savage than I want the society I live in to be.

Just something to chew on.

One-eyed dog charms crowd at Crufts

A purebred flat-coated retriever won best in show, but it was a one-eyed mutt named Dudley, and his dazzling performance in an agility contest, that won over the crowd at Crufts — the pretentious, I mean presitigious, UK dog show that concluded this past weekend.

Dudley, a six-year-old Lhasa apso-pug mix who lost his eye as a pup, and later was given up by his owners,  won an official Crufts rosette for his performance in the agility ring, beating out other rescued dogs in the competition, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

While we’ve been known to poke fun at purebred dog shows, it’s good to see them — on both sides of the pond — opening things up to mixed breeds, like Dudley. And, if  the crowd reaction to him is any sign, it’s something they should do a lot more of.

“He was definitely the crowd’s favorite and got a huge cheer as he ran round,” Dudley’s owner, Lara Alford, from Southampton, said. “Over the last few days he has had so many admirers – he’s probably been one of the most photographed dogs at Crufts this year.”

Dudley had his right eye removed as a puppy because of an infection. At 14 months, his owners surrendered him at an animal adoption shelter.

Alford, shortly after adopting him, noticed his speed and maneuverability and began training him in agility. As they run the courses, she always stays on his left side, so he can see her.

At Crufts, the training paid off.  “It was one of the fastest rounds Dudley’s ever done,” she said.

More than 21,000 dogs vied for honors at Crufts, which opened Thursday. In the best-in-show competition, Jet, a flat-coated retriever, beat out a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a German shepherd, a boxer, a wire fox terrier, a standard poodle and a bichon frise.

Hickory snubs a steak from Sardis

Among the traditional perks of winning Westminster’s Best in Show are a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and going to Sardi’s in Manhattan for a steak.

You’d think that last one, at least, would appeal to the average dog — and especially to the pampered pooches that strut before the judges every year at the Westminster Dog Show.

But Hickory, the Scottish Deerhound chosen as Best in Show this week, had virtually no interest in the juicy filet, prepared medium rare, sliced into bite-sized chunks and placed in front of her at Sardi’s. She took only a taste or two before ignoring it entirely.

As her trainer pointed out, there were lots of lights, and hordes of media, and Hickory’s never been real big on steak in the first place.

You could view it as a photo op turned photo flop, but I kind of like the fact that she turned up her scruffy nose at the offering.

In light of all the human control inflicted on dogs during dogs shows, not to mention throughout history, I like seeing, for some reason, a little canine independence and rebelliousness exhibited in that setting. Of course, I don’t know what Hickory was thinking when that juicy red meat was set before her, but I like to think it was this:

Two hundred people have gathered, pulled up in their news vans, and started their cameras rolling, and are lined up outside  — all to watch me eat a steak? OK, then, I’m not going to do it.

Silly humans.

Best in Show? A Scottish deerhound

A Scottish deerhound named Hickory was awarded best in show last night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden.

It was the breed’s first best in show win at Westminster.

Hickory — full name Foxcliffe Hickory Wind — beat out the other finalists: a Pekingese, a  Shar-pei, a bearded collie, a black cocker spaniel, a Portuguese water dog and a smooth fox terrier.

“Over the moon,” is how owner Cecilia Dove described the win. “This is the first deerhound to ever win at the Garden. She’s in an elite group of one. ”

Hickory’s best in show comes after finishing third in her group last year, which her handler, Angela Lloyd blamed on big-city jitters. “This dog isn’t used to cities or venues this size. It is used to chasing squirrels and deer all day on a big farm,” she said.

Hickory lives on Dove’s farm, outside Warrenton, Va.

“She’s got everything,” Paolo Dondina, a judge from Monterchi, Italy, said after picking Hickory. “The movement, the presence. It’s a dog for the big show.”

Hickory, according to Bloomberg.com, is named after a bluegrass song by John Duffey. Hickory succeeds Sadie, a black Scottish terrier who won Westminster last year.

About 2,600 canines from 179 breeds competed in the two-day event.

The Scottish deerhound breed dates to the 16th century, when it was used for pursuing and killing deer, and could be owned by “no one of rank lower than an earl,” according to the American Kennel Club website.

Lloyd, Hickory’s handler, said the 5-year-old, 85-pound dog loves the spotlight.

“She’s constantly making sure she’s getting attention,” Lloyd said.

Like all Westminster winners, she’ll be getting plenty of that in the days ahead, before retiring to Dove’s farm in Virginia.

Here’s a video of her first round win — she’s the third one to strut — over two other Scottish deerhounds.

“DOG, INC.” struts its stuff

“Thought Provoking?” It’s not like winning best in show at Westminster, but I’ll take the sign my book appears under at this bookstore as a compliment.

A friend sent me this photo, taken at the Barnes & Noble in Towson, which shows “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” getting some pretty decent display (at least better than the bottom shelf of the astronomy section, as was the case at an area bookstore that shall remain nameless).

I can think of no other sign I would like my book to be under — except maybe “New York Times Bestseller.”

Alas, it’s not there yet, but it did rate the “Page 99 Test,” a website by Marshal Zeringue dedicated to the proposition that the quality of a book can be judged by turning to, and reading, its 99th page.

I lucked out in that page 99 of “DOG, INC.” contains a revelation — namely who it was that located Genelle Guzman, the last survivor found after 9/11, and held her hand until she could be freed from the mound of debris she was trapped under.

(Clue: It wasn’t the volunteer firefighters who took credit for rescuing her on CNN)

If you’re wondering what this has to do with cloning dogs, you can click the link to Marshal’s blog or, better yet, buy the book and allow your thoughts — and perhaps more — to be provoked.