True story: A German shepherd named Rumor was awarded Best in Show Tuesday night at the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.
When the announcement was made, the crowd at Madison Square Garden erupted into boisterous applause. But no one was as elated as Tom Ryan, Rumor’s handler and co-owner.
“Unbelievable,” Ryan said after accepting the purple ribbon and the prized pewter cup. Rumor is 5 years old and is named after the hit Adele song “Rumor Has It.” She was a favorite at last year’s Westminster competition, but was bested by a German shorthaired pointer named CJ.
Nearly 3,000 dogs competed this year at Westminster. Winners are determined through a process of elimination. Canines in seven categories competed for Best of Breed. Those winners then advanced to the Best in Show event.
Rumor beat six other dogs for the prize: A boxer named Devlin, a Norwegian elkhound named Duffy, a miniature poodle named Aftin, a Norwich terrier named Tanner, a powder puff of a Pekingnese named Chuckie, and Adrian, an Irish setter. Adrian was selected the Best-in-Show runner-up.
A Breed Apart
German shepherds are known for their intelligence and loyalty. They were originally bred as sheep herders, in Germany. Today, the dogs often work alongside police officers and firefighters as search-and-rescue dogs. They are also popular as service dogs for the blind or hearing impaired.
Rumor is only the second German shepherd to be named top dog at Westminster. The last time one won the nation’s premier dog competition was in 1987.
“The German shepherd standard talks about quality and nobility,” Westminster judge Thomas Bradley III said. “When you recognize it, it hits you at home, and that’s what it really is. [Rumor] is just magnificent.”
A Girl’s Best Friend
Rumor wasn’t the only winner Tuesday night. Earlier in the evening, 16-year-old Mallori Seifert, of Santa Margarita, California, won the Junior Showmanship championship with her 4-year-old beagle, Miles.
Young people ages 9-18 are eligible to compete in the club's Junior Showmanship competition. In this part of the show, it's humans, not canines, who vie for the prize. Contestants are judged on how they handle their dog in the show ring. Mallori beat seven other teens, taking home an oversized pink sash and ribbon and a $6,000 scholarship to be used for college or technical school. Mallori, a high-school junior, plans to study psychology.
"It's amazing,” Mallori said about her Westminster experience. “This is my first year here. I didn't know what to expect. So it's a lot. But it's very well worth it. It's worth the trip. It's worth the stress of getting here. It's so worth it. Especially if you have a dog that can take you all the way like Miles has for me."
And what's it like to win Westminster? "At this point, it hasn't hit me yet.“
Miles, on the other hand, couldn’t contain his excitement. Just before leaving the show ring, Miles did what dogs do (or should we say doo-doo?), right there on the green carpet, causing the Madison Square Garden audience to cheer and laugh.
"He's good," Mallori said as Miles trotted happily beside her backstage. "He's excited."