Westminster’s Class of 2008: Uno, the retirees and the returnees

The 2009 edition of the Westminster Dog Show is in full swing, but last year’s deafening applause at Madison Square Garden is still ringing in my ears. A 15-inch beagle – a breed that had never won overall honors in the Show’s 132 years – upset some heavy favorites to capture Best in Show to a standing ovation and stunned disbelief.

Uno, tail wagging, howled and hopped into the silver trophy cup, and as much energy as he exhibited, his handlers and owners were even more ecstatic. The events were quite a contrast to the serene James (Ch Felicity’s Diamond Jim), the English Springer Spaniel and 2007 Best in Show champion, who had calmly surveyed the photographers following his victory with a knowing look while the chaos swirled around him.

Contrasting reactions, identical result – and it is that result that one dog will equal Tuesday night. With many dogs typically retiring after Westminster – often referred to as the Super Bowl of dog shows – who from last year’s Best in Show finals is hoping to join James and Uno on the champions’ list, and who is enjoying their post-dog show life? Here is a look at the Class of 2008:


Charmin (Ch Efbe’s Hidalgo At Goodspice): The Sealyham Terrier – named after the toilet paper – and 2008 Terrier Group winner from Pennsylvania returns to Westminster in the hopes of adding a 45th Best in Show win for her group and fifth for her breed.

Deuce (Ch Vinelake Collinswood Yablon OA OAJ): Deuce became the first Australian Shepherd ever to win Westminster’s Herding Group. Even though a year has passed since that honor, she still graces the Web site homepage of Collinswood K-9 Services, a training and daycare facility in Massachusetts helmed by her owner, Terri Collins. Deuce won Best of Opposite Sex honors at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in December; it’s worth noting that five of the seven group winners at that same championship in 2007 won their respective groups at Westminster two months later.

Not returning:

Marge (Ch Colsidex Seabreeze Perfect Fit): The reigning Sporting Group winner, Marge is listed as one of the invitees to this year’s Weimaraner breed competition. Following Westminster, she had competed throughout 2008, capturing more titles including the Staten Island (N.Y.) Kennel Club dog show in June. However, she was marked as “absent” from the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in December. That’s because she gave birth to a litter of three boys and six girls that same month. Her handler, Alessandra Folz, said that Marge “is staying at home with the babies!”


Uno (Ch K-Run’s Park Me in First): The beagle has proven to be one of the most popular Westminster champions ever, with appearances alongside Snoopy at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, “interviews” in such vaunted places as Wall Street, participating in opening pitches for baseball games and even becoming the first champion to visit the White House. Reportedly, Uno’s owners had not wanted to retire the champion due to his young age – he turns 4 on May 5 – but were advised to do so when others predicted a possible backlash following his win at the biggest dog show in the United States. (There has been no back-to-back “Best in Show” winner at Westminster since 1972, when an English Springer Spaniel named Ch Chinoe’s Adamant James took home consecutive honors.) As James did last year, Uno will be on hand at the 2009 show to oversee the festivities.

Macey (Ch Redwitch Reason To Believe): Hailing from the U.K., the top-winning Akita of all time in the U.S. called it quits after two straight Westminster Working Group titles. (This is the same dog in 2007 who some fans, carrying an “AKITA” sign, thought was robbed of the “Best in Show” title.)

Remy (Ch Brighton Minimoto): Following back-to-back Non-Sporting Group wins, the Standard Poodle retired to Florida. She will make a couple of appearances in her home state next month at the Palm Beach County Dog Fanciers Association Dog Show.

Vikki (Ch Smash JP Win A Victory): 2008 felt like a déjà vu of 2007 as Vikki – who could pass for Remy’s “Mini Me”– also notched back-to-back group wins, for her in the Toy Group. The steak-chomping toy poodle, like her larger clone, also called it a day but flew much further afield than Remy did, heading all the way to Japan. (Japan, you ask? The clue is the word “Smash” in Vikki’s full name, as she is part of the Smash Poodles family located there.) Vikki does have an official English Web site at www.toypoodlevikki.com, and while it sadly has not been updated since her Westminster group win, you can take a look at her photo shoots, magazine covers and videos of past victories.

For scheduling and ticket information, go to www.westminsterkennelclub.org. The show takes place Feb. 9-10 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.