Report from the Westminster Dog Show

New York, New York. Dogs aren’t allowed at Disneyland. So, the winner of Westminster can’t go there. Instead, Marilu Hansen of Newton, NJ explained that Mick will go home to play with his plush carrot toy after winning the most prestigious dog show in the world.

Kerry Blue Terrier Champion Torums Scarf Michael – who is simply called Mick at home – became the 42nd terrier to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, beating about 2,600 other dogs.

“We’re numb, this is a dream come true,” said Hansen, from the center of Madison Square Garden immediately after Best in Show judge, Irene Biven, awarded him with the top honor. Biven said, “Tonight what ran through my head is that I’ve seen only a handful of great dogs in my life, and this is a great dog. It was a very tough decision, though.”

After winning Crufts (England’s version of Westminster) in 2000, the American Kennel Club Eukenuba National Invitational in 2002, and now Westminster – Mick is the first dog to win the canine Triple Crown.

Mick’s longtime handler Bill McFadden of Acampo, CA has been handling dogs for 25 years. He had previously won first in his group at Westminster – but winning the entire show is another matter. “You never really think in your wildest dreams that it will be your dog the judge selects at Westminster,” he said.

Best in Show judge Biven, of Ft. Worth, TX might have felt the pressure of a Great Dane sitting on her shoulders with 20,000 screaming fans expressing their favorites in Madison Square Garden, not to mention millions more watching on TV – about 4.6 million to be exact, the highest rating ever for the dog show. She said, “I was thrilled – but calm once I looked up and saw those great dogs. It turned out to be great fun. ”

Biven herself will be registered in the Westminster record book. Her husband judged Best in Show at Westminster back in 1999 (he chose the Papillon). The Biven’s are only the third husband/wife team to both judge Best in Show.

Chad Malinak and his pointer named Ch. Cheneroux Shakerattle N Roll won the other dog show at Westminster. This is a show for junior handlers, from 12 to 18-years old. Malinak, who is 18, is an aspiring college football player from Harvey, LA. His every move at the Garden was followed by screaming teenage dog show groupies. He says, “I first began junior handling because I was so shy. Now, I have more friends – and I’m not so shy.”

The Stars Come Out

Westminster typically attracts the show biz stars. Lauren Bacall ambled into the press room. This is the press room – not the judge’s room, or the bathroom – it’s a place where you’re bound to meet the press.

I asked Ms. Bacall about her dog. She said that she wasn’t doing interviews, and would rather not speak about her dog. Then, she turned her back to me, and began to walk away. Suddenly, she turned to face me and with great panache and drama, and in her distinctive sultry voice simply said, “A Papillon, my dear.”

When I asked her dog’s name, Bacall replied, “That’s for me to know and for you never to find out. Now, can you tell me where to find the bottled water?”

Exceedingly more gracious among the celebs was Su Ewing, the former director of the Lucy/Desi Museum in Jamestown, NY. She pointed out that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had many dogs – mostly cocker spaniels. After their divorce, Lucy had a series of miniature poodles – each named Tinker. Ewing is also the author of “The Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Family Friend and Farmhand” (Howell Book House, New York, NY, 2000; $24.95).

Kibble and Bits: Tidbits from behind-the-scenes at Westminster:

Legendary New York City based dog trainer Carol Lea Benjamin was inducted into the International Association of Canine Professionals Hall of Fame. Her training books remain a resource for young trainers. These days, she’s busy writing mystery books. Naturally, the star detective is a canine sleuth.

Among the products for sale at Westminster, a grooming scissor for $1,700. This scissor does have twice as many teeth as a typical scissor – but it sure costs more than twice the price. You can find the clippers at www.lespoochs.com. When Jenny Aurora of the Connecticut School of Dog Grooming, North Haven passed by the scissor on display under glass, she said, “I would pay anything for a good scissor – if I could afford it. I believe a good scissor can change your life.”

Several veterinary schools were represented at Westminster. Dr. Alan Kelly, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia pointed out that one of his faculty biologists Hans Scholer made the list of Discovery Magazine’s Top-100 discoveries of 2002. He discovered a gene that shows why cloning doesn’t work. Kelly said, “So much remains unknown, but what is known is that cloned animals are plagued with enormous health problems.”

There were several dinners and award banquets held over the weekend preceding Westminster. The Dog Writer’s Association of America (DWAA) held their annual banquet on Sunday (February 9), handing out many honors. The Merial Human-Animal Bond Award was presented for the work best exemplifying the relationship between people and their dogs to Ann Pregosin, author of “The Dogs Who Grew Me.” (Capital Books, Inc., Sterling, VA, 2002; $25). Pregosin said, “The book is a tribute to the six dogs I’ve had in my life. They have been my best teachers. For example, there’s my most recent dog, Tyler. He personifies a fresh optimism, an expectation of good things. He elicits good things because he looks for them. And he knows how to enjoy them when he finds them.” Pregosin’s overall message: We should all open our minds to canine wisdom.

(This reporter was awarded DWAA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award for exemplary conduct, public communication, professional excellence, promoting excellent in the sport of dogs and extraordinary achievement.)

Note: This article is copyrighted by Steve Dale and can be used as source material and for reference only. It cannot be reprinted verbatim. Please contact Steve Dale at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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