Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winners typically bow out of their show careers after taking the prestigious prize and go on to produce puppies, become therapy dogs or just master the art of sofa lounging. Here’s a look at how five past champs now spend their time.
2011 Winner: Hickory the Scottish Deerhound has babies and chases bears
Motherhood was the path taken by GCh. Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, the elegant Scottish Deerhound owned by Dr. R. Scott and Cecilia Dove of Virginia. After becoming the first in her breed to take Best in Show in the history of Westminster, Hickory has since produced nine puppies, who are currently four months old.
When she's not playing with her pups, Hickory runs for miles every day on the family farm, located in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Although she's normally calm and serene, once outdoors, Hickory turns into a keen coursing dog, who has even been known to drive a bear up a tree.
“We live in wide-open territory, so there are lots of places for her to run and, of course, lots of things for her to chase,” says Dr. Dove, a veterinarian who specializes in theriogenology, the science of breeding.
Will Hickory have another litter? “She might be bred again,” says Dr. Dove. “She’s a very healthy bitch.”
2010 Winner: Sadie the Scottish Terrier kicks back at home
In 2010, not only did Scottish Terrier Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot — Sadie for short — take Best in Show at Westminster, but she also won the National Dog Show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, a rare feat in dog show circles. Sadie, who was bestowed the nickname “Hottie Scottie” by the New York Post, embarked on a post-show media tour that included stops at the Empire State Building, a visit with Donald Trump and a chance to paw the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
As with many champions, the next stage for Sadie involved puppies. She gave birth to five pups in March 2011, an event that was closely followed by terrier fans. The Scottish Terrier and Dog News blog even reported when Sadie’s “baby daddy” Winston was chosen.
Since then, Sadie has become more of a homebody, living with handler Gabriel Rangel in Rialto, Calif. It's been reported that Sadie enjoys watching her favorite TV channel — Animal Planet, of course. She also relishes curling up in a dog bed with Rangel’s Chihuahua, Tad, and snacking on her favorite treat: hot dogs.
2009 Winner: Stump the Sussex Spaniel spends time with friends
Sussex Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee recently celebrated his thirteenth birthday. At age 10, he was the oldest dog to take the top title at Westminster — and he was the first of his breed to do so.
These days, Stump, as he's nicknamed, is enjoying a well-deserved retirement with handler Scott Sommer of Texas. In other words, this lucky dog does pretty much whatever he wants, which mainly means hanging out with pal J. R. (Ch. Special Times Just Right), the Bichon Frise who won Best in Show in 2001.
“They get a lot of attention here, and they’re happy with life,” says Sommer. “Stump doesn’t hear quite as well, but he eats like a horse and never misses a meal.”
2008 Winner: Uno the Beagle reflects on past glories
Beagle Ch. K-Run’s Park Me in First, better known to the world as Uno, had one of the busiest post-Westminster lives. Accompanied by Westminster announcer David Frei, Uno crisscrossed the country as an ambassador for his pet cause: canine therapy work.
He also “threw” the first pitch at baseball games, and made appearances at art gallery openings and charity fundraisers. He rode on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, flipped the switch at the Empire State Building to turn on its purple and gold lights to celebrate Westminster Week in 2009 — and even visited the White House.
Which are the best-loved breeds in the nation? The American Kennel Club reveals the leaders of the pack.
America’s top dogs
Which breeds are the top contenders for man’s best friend? The American Kennel Club ranks the most popular pups of the year.
While sweet and playful, Shih Tzus are not afraid to stand up for themselves. As a matter of fact, the word Shih Tzu means "lion" in Mandarin. This portable pooch carries itself proudly, with its head well up and tail curved over the back.
Cherished by Chinese royals for more than a thousand years, the Shih Tzu was the prized house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty. During World War II, English soldiers discovered the breed and its popularity spread around the world.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
The poodle holds the record for being the most popular dog for 22 consecutive years (1960-1982). Though the breed’s elaborately groomed show coat often creates the misperception that it’s a pampered aristocrat, the poodle is actually one of the high achievers of the canine world.
The stylish “poodle clip” seen in dog shows was designed by hunters to help the breed move through the water more efficiently. In fact, the English word "poodle" comes from the German pudel or pudelin, which means “to splash in water.”Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
The breed lovingly known as the “wiener dog” has a strong personality with a dose of charm and a playful sense of humor. They can adapt to city or country life and can get all the exercise they need exploring a small yard in the suburbs or playing with other dogs in the dog park.
Dachshunds, meaning “badger dogs” in German, were first bred in the early 1600s in Germany with the goal of creating a fearless, elongated dog that could dig the earth from a burrow and eliminate the badgers for the farmers.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
Easy to care for, intelligent, and faithful, the boxer is an affectionate and trustworthy pet for an active family. Boxers are known for standing up on their hind legs and batting at their opponent, appearing to box with itheir front paws.
People began importing them to America from Germany after World War I, and they began to grow in popularity in the late 1930s.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
The bulldog has been steadily rising up the list of AKC’s most popular breeds since it entered the Top 10 in 2007. A medium-size dog, they are not your typical lapdog, but would like to be! Bulldogs are calm, loyal family dogs that are happy to curl up on the sofa, eat two or three square meals a day, and have their bellies rubbed.
Said to have originated in the British Isles, the name "bull" was applied because of the dog’s connection with bull-baiting. The original bulldog had to be ferocious and courageous, and almost insensitive to pain.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
5. Golden retriever
Slipping one place to fifth, golden retrievers are well-balanced, strong, active dogs with a kind expression, a gentle manner and an alert and self-confident disposition. They are intelligent, friendly and reliable, with an innate need to please their owners.
The breed originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and the dogs were used predominantly for hunting.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
The beagle is the only breed to rank in the Top 10 every decade since the founding of the AKC. Originally developed to hunt rabbits, they naturally enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses – which can lead to some mischief.
Beagles like to vocalize. In fact, the origin of the name "beagle" may have been derived from the French term "be’geule," referring to the baying voice of the hounds when in pursuit of game. The most famous beagle of all, Snoopy, was named the American Kennel Club’s “most popular dog in pop culture” in 2009.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
3. Yorkshire terrier
These playful dogs offer owners a big personality in a small package. Though members of the Toy Group, this breed is terrierlike by nature — brave, determined, investigative and energetic. Yorkies are highly favored apartment dogs and lapdogs; they are very energetic as puppies and tend to be quiet and settled as adults.
In 19th century Yorkshire, England, Yorkies caught rats for workers in cloth mills. The breed’s coat was so beautiful that people said the mill workers must have spun their coats in the factories.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
2. German shepherd
Celebrated for their versatility, distinguished for their intelligence, and beloved for their devotion to their owners, German shepherds are active dogs that love to run and explore their surroundings with their excellent noses.
Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, German shepherds also serve as guide dogs for the blind, guardians, and search-and-rescue dogs. However, they are best known for serving as devoted family friend and protector.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
1. Labrador retriever
In 1991, Labrador retrievers took over the top spot on AKC’s list of the most popular dogs in the U.S. from the cocker spaniel, and today celebrate their 20th anniversary in the top spot.
These gentle animals are happiest when with their owners, and require attention and love as much as food and water. Labs are high-energy, action-oriented dogs and can become easily bored without proper training and exercise – ideal for an active family or as a trusted hunting companion.Courtesy of The American Kennel Club / Courtesy of The American Kennel Club
Since his Beagle Across America tour concluded, Uno has simply lived the life of a dog says co-owner Eddie Dziuk, chief operating officer of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. “He lives with his co-owner, Caroline Dowell, and he’s a full-time house dog,” says Dziuk. “He sleeps in her bed, and hangs out with other Beagles.”
2007 Winner: James the English Springer Spaniel focused on pet therapy
English Springer Spaniel Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim (James to his friends) was nearly seven years old when he won Best in Show, making him one of the oldest Springer Spaniels to take top honors at Westminster.
After his win, he focused on a career in pet therapy with his owner, Teresa Patton, of Amissville, Va. The duo worked with Angel on a Leash and other pet therapy organizations, as well as raised nearly $15,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association by doing memory walks. “James had been doing pet therapy since he was seven months old, and he and I just picked up where he left off,” says Patton.
In his spare time, James finished four rally titles and his first obedience title. He died last May, at age 11, from an aggressive form of lymphoma. His loss is still raw, says Patton, but his memory lives on in her garden, which is planted with purple and gold roses and sprinkled with his ashes.
She will soon have a more tangible remembrance in the form of a litter due in March that was accomplished via a surgical implant. “We’re very excited about the prospect of having children from him this year,” says Patton. “He’s still with us in many ways. People still comment on how charismatic he was, and what a profound impact he had. It reached far beyond the show ring, which is pretty amazing.”
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina will air February 13 and 14 on the USA Network and CNBC. Click here for full viewing details.
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