King for a day: Wire fox terrier posts early Westminster win
NEW YORK (AP) — Wire fox terriers are still King at Westminster.
A wire fox from Brazil who's won big in Europe became America's top dog Tuesday night, beating out a crowd-pleasing longhaired dachshund and popular Sussex spaniel.
There were some boos — along with modest cheers — at Madison Square Garden when judge Peter Green pointed at the 7-year-old King.
"It doesn't get any better than that," handler Gabriel Rangel said.
The win was hardly a surprise.
Wire fox terriers have won 15 times at the nation's most prestigious dog show, far more than any other breed (Scottish terriers are second, with eight).
Green is a renowned figure in the dog world, especially for his work with terriers. He's previously picked King as the champ at other shows.
Wired to win, this dog was.
"I look at King, he's like a beautiful painting, a piece of art," Rangel praised earlier in the day. "The way he stands and performs, he's the whole package."
A Havanese named Bono came in second among the more than 2,800 dogs who entered here.
Also in the final ring were Bean the Sussex spaniel, Burns the longhaired dachshund, Wilma the boxer and Baby Lars the bouviers des Flandres.
The fan favorites at the Garden were clearly Bean and Burns.
Chants of "Bean! Bean! Bean!" bounced around the packed arena as the Sussex spaniel rounded the ring. And Burns drew loud cheers as his long hair flowed while circling the green carpet.
There was a bit of dog show drama, too, at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club.
A day after earning a coveted spot in the final ring of seven, spirited Colton the schipperke was ruled ineligible for best in show.
There was a conflict of interest — Green's longtime partner has co-owned dogs with one of Colton's co-owners. Colton was allowed to run around the ring, then was excused.
"This doesn't negate all he's done here," handler Christa Cook said as she brushed Colton's colt backstage at the Garden. "It's been a great experience, his accomplishment is in the book forever."
Wagging his tail, the tri-colored King was completely in control under Rangel, who won for the third time at Westminster.
Rangel teared up in the middle of the ring after the win, overwhelmed by the moment and the recognition from Green.
"Special win because of that judge," Rangel said.
Neither he nor King will have much time to rest.
Wednesday's victory lap includes visits to morning television shows, a steak lunch at midtown eatery Sardi's, a trip up the Empire State Building and a walk-on part in the Broadway musical "Pretty Woman."
Owner Victor Malzoni Jr. of Brazil gets no prize money for this win. Besides a shiny silver bowl, the reward comes in lucrative breeding rights and a lifetime of bragging rights.
This was the 47th overall best in show win for the wire fox with a full name of Kingarthur Van Foliny Home. He's also done well at the largest dog show in the world, Crufts in England.
Packed with personality, Burns had all the qualities of a Westminster champion.
He had a great coat. He had a wonderful gait. He had a playful spirit.
But did he have the right combination to become the big winner here? His body of work said yes. History said no.
"Best in show breeds need the flash to compete," handler Carlos Puig said in the afternoon.
Despite always being among the nation's most popular dogs, a dachshund has never won best in show at Westminster. Neither has a Havanese, schipperke or bouviers des Flandres.
Rangel twice previously guided terriers to best in show at Westminster — Sadie the Scottie in 2010 and Sky the wire fox in 2014.
That's a lot better showing than popular golden retrievers and Labs. They've never taken the top title at Westminster.
"I love goldens. They're so sweet, you just want to hold them," he said. "But they don't have that sharp expression."