Miniature poodle named Sage wins Westminster Kennel Club dog show

Sage, a miniature poodle from Houston, wins the Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday. More than 2,500 dogs representing about 200 breeds and varieties were entered into the show.

KENA BETANCUR/Getty

NEW YORK — A miniature poodle named Sage won the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday night.

Sage bested six other finalists to claim the best in show award at the United States’ most illustrious canine event.

Each of the contestants stood, strode and sought to shine before the judge at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

In all, more than 2,500 dogs spanning about 200 breeds and varieties entered the show. They’re judged according to which one best matches the “standard,” or ideal, for its breed.

In an event where all competitors are champions in the sport’s point system, winning can depend on subtleties and a standout turn in the ring.

“Just to be in the ring with everyone else is an honor,” said Katie Bernardin, handler and co-owner of giant schnauzer Monty after his semifinal win. “We all love our dogs. We’re trying our best.”

Monty, who also was a finalist last year, is “a stallion” of a giant schnauzer, Bernardin of Chaplin, Connecticut, said in an interview before his semifinal win. She described him as solid, powerful and “very spirited.”

So “spirited” that when Bernardin was pregnant, she did obedience and other dog sports with Monty because he needed the stimulation.

Though she loves giant schnauzers, “they’re not an easy breed,” she cautions would-be owners. But she adds that the driven dogs can be great to have “if you can put the time into it.”

Monty, a giant schnauzer from Ocean City, New Jersey, jumps after winning the Working Group during the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York.

KENA BETANCUR/Getty

Dogs first compete against others of their breed. Then the winner of each breed goes up against others in its “group.” The seven group winners meet in the final round.

The best in show winner gets a trophy and a place in dog-world history, but there’s no cash prize.

Other dogs that vied in vain for a spot in the finals included Stache, a Sealyham terrier. He won the National Dog Show that was televised on Thanksgiving and took top prize at a big terrier show in Pennsylvania last fall.

Stache showcases a rare breed that’s considered vulnerable to extinction even in its native Britain.

“They’re a little-known treasure,” said Stache’s co-owner, co-breeder and handler, Margery Good of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, who has bred “Sealys” for half a century. Originally developed in Wales to hunt badgers and other burrowing game, the terriers with a “fall” of hair over their eyes are courageous but comedic — Good dubs them “silly hams.”

A Sealyham Terrier dog walks with its handler during the 148th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Sealyhams are a rare breed and considered vulnerable to extinction even in their native Britain.

Andres Kudacki/Getty

Westminster can feel like a study in canine contrasts. Just walking around, a visitor could see a Chihuahua peering out of a carrying bag at a stocky Neapolitan mastiff, a ring full of honey-colored golden retrievers beside a lineup of stark-black giant schnauzers, and handlers with dogs far larger than themselves.

Shane Jichetti was one of them. Ralphie, the 175-pound great Dane she co-owns, outweighs her by a lot. It takes considerable experience to show so big an animal, but “if you have a bond with your dog, and you just go with it, it works out,” she said.

Plus Ralphie, for all his size, is “so chill,” Jichetti said. Playful at home on New York’s Staten Island, he’s spot-on — just like his harlequin-pattern coat — when it’s time to go in the ring.

“He’s just an honest dog,” Jichetti said.

The Westminster show, which dates to 1877, centers on the traditional purebred judging that leads to the best in show prize. But over the last decade, the club has added agility and obedience events open to mixed-breed dogs.

And this year, the agility competition counted its first non-purebred winner, a border collie-papillon mix named Nimble.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *