Kerry blue terrier wins best in show at Westminster

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

NEW YORK -- At last, a Triple Crown winner. Only this one is a terrier, not a thoroughbred.

A Kerry blue named Mick finally won the only title missing on his resume Tuesday night -- best in show at Westminster.

Upset the last two years on the green carpet at Madison Square Garden, the 6 1/2-year-old terrier would not be denied this time. He posed perfectly, and judge Irene Bivin rewarded him with the silver championship bowl.

Ch. Torums Scarf Michael, as he is formally known, won the world's largest dog show, Crufts, in England in 2000 and took the major AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship in Orlando, Fla., in December. But he'd never been able to win America's most prestigious show, mostly because he'd get a case of the jitters.

Not this time.

''I just wanted him to keep it together, and the rest was up to him,'' handler Bill McFadden said. ''It was an awesome lineup.''

Triple Crowns are mostly associated with horse racing and baseball, and there hasn't been one in either sport for quite awhile. Affirmed was the last one to do it on the track, in 1978, and Carl Yastrzemski won the last in the majors in 1967.

To get his triple, Mick beat out a handsome German shepherd, a popular Newfoundland and a slow-moving Pekingese that was primped to the nines.

Overall, Mick was picked as top dog among 2,603 entries in 159 breeds and varieties. He earned 113th best in show lifetime.

A crowd of more than 10,000 saw Mick continue a string of terrier wins at Westminster. Terriers have won 43 of the 95 best in show titles presented.

While Bivin picked Mick, the fans had their own ideas about who should win. They cheered wildly when Dallas, the German shepherd, entered the ring and they kept up their whistles and clapping for Josh, the Newfoundland, and Les, the Pekingese.

But Bivin marked her judge's book, turned around with the ribbon in her hand and said Mick was the one.

Mick celebrated by wagging his tail, jumping on McFadden and leaping into a box that said best in show, as if to make sure everybody knew it was him.

''Even with a great dog, it is difficult to keep him on his game,'' McFadden said. ''Any of the dogs could have won tonight.''

There is no prize money for McFadden and Mick's owner, Marilu Hansen. But the prestige of being a Westminster winner will follow the dog through generations of offspring.

Mick came to New York last year also as a heavy favorite, but was too jumpy and lost out to a miniature poodle called Surrey Spice Girl. A year before, he was beaten out by a bichon frise named J.R.

His main competition this time was from Dallas, whose handler, James Moses, had the only other Westminster win by a German shepherd -- Manhattan in 1987.

But Moses knew ahead of time that this could be tough because Bivin was judging. Last year, she passed him over in the herding group for Welsh corgi called Sammy Sosa.

Going into this week's two-day event, Moses even called the prospect of facing Bivin ''a nightmare.''

However, it wasn't a total loss for Dallas or his pups. His daughter won best of opposite sex and his son earned a merit award for his breed.

The rest of the best in show lineup included a lively Brittany. Called Jester, he was semiretired from show competition last year before making a comeback and repeating in the sporting group.

An Ibizan hound called Bunny was bidding to become the first of his breed to win at Westminster and a standard poodle also made the final seven.

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