Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: 10-year-old Stump, a Sussex Spaniel, wins Best in Show
Stump, 2009 Westminster Best in Show winner (AP)
Stump, a Sussex Spaniel who wowed the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show crowd with his cascade of hazel hair and tail-wagging plod, won Best in Show Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Houston-based dog turned 10 on Dec. 1, making him the oldest dog to win the annual title by almost exactly two years. (In 1999, the Papillon champion was 8 years, 1 month, 10 days.)
Stump's victory registered high in a long life of highs and lows.
The dog also won Best of Sporting Group in 2004, and Stump already has two sons (Root and Forest) and a daughter (Myrtle). He fell ill in 2005 and retired from competition, spending 19 days under veterinary care on the campus of Texas A&M. Since he recovered from that unidentified illness, Stump (full name: Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee) has been a house dog in Houston, sharing a bed each night with a former Best in Show (JR, Bijon Frise, 2001) raised by the same Texas/Connecticut team.
Stump, with his tail wagging eternally side to side, earned loud reactions from the adoring crowd as he proceeded to victory Tuesday night. He outshowed a strong field, said Westminster Best in Show judge Sari Brewster Tietjen.
His competitors were: a jet-black standard poodle; a well-mannered Giant Schnauzer; a docile Scottish Deerhound with a bouncing, graceful gait; a tiny herder Pulik hidden under wavy dreadlocks; an adorable Scottish terrier with a flouncy, busy legs; and Brussels griffon with a proud snoot.
But Stump, Tietjen determined in the final minute, was the winner. She said she had no idea how old the winning dog was at the time of judging.
Scott Sommer, Stump's handler, said he was unsure whether to even fly Stump from Texas to New York for showing this year, and only decided last Wednesday.
"If you think about it now," Tietjen said, "he was insane to do this."
But Sommer liked his chances with the aging, 50-pound champion.
"He looked great and it's a rare bred," Sommer said as the top dog, having just won his 51st title, sat mellowly at his feet. "This was just like going for a walk with my pet."
Stump's reign figures to be lower-key than that of the dynamic beagle Uno, who, like Stump, won the first Best in Show for his breed last year. Sommer said extensive travel is out of the question for Stump, adding that Stump had officially retired from competition with this victory.
A spike in popularity is now inevitable for the Sussex Spaniel, but the breed is rare.
"There are not enough of them around to be bred," Sommer said, addressing whether Stump's breed will soon be ubiquitous.Some other notes from closing night at the Westminster:
No kidding: I wrote this around 9:15 p.m., before Stump was anything more than Best of Breed. "The hazel cascade of the Sussex Spaniel's hair makes it a lovely choice for best of breed, sporting group winner and perhaps best in show."
The crowd cheers the bashful affenpinscher
The Italian greyhound has a tensile elegance
The maltese resembles nothing so much as a cascade of sea foam. This
one's pinched ears gave it a darker, perhaps even evil appearance.
The affenpinscher looks like a leader. Pomeranian, too, after it scrapes its hind legs backward for the cheering crowd. The chihuahua has a great gait.
The Brussels griffon wins the toy group. He's a cute little gentleman.
The akita and Alaskan malamute are very similar in their wolfenness.
This black Russian terrier has a fun spirit.
The dogue de Bordeaux wins some cheers.
The German pinscher showed poorly. he looked nervous, shaky and difficult.
Look at the rippling muscles on this black-and-white, cow-spotted Great Dane.
Wow. The Neapolitan mastiff, or "mastino," is the most shaggy-skinned mastiff imaginable.
Whether the samoyed wins or not, his is a charming breed.
The Siberian husky has a low, slinky, horizontal quality to his movement.
The Tibetan mastiff has a thick, billowy main.
Suddenly, I like the poised doberman pinscher to win the working group.
The Giant Schnauzer wins with black, flaxen hair. Second is the boxer, third malamute and fourth the Tibetan mastiff.