By BEN WALKER
NEW YORK (AP) — Flynn the bichon frise won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club on Tuesday night, a choice that seemed to surprise almost everyone in the packed crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Fans who had been loudly shouting for their favorites fell into stunned silence when judge Betty-Anne Stenmark announced her decision.
No matter, the white powder puff was picked and walked off as America’s top dog.
Guided by expert handler Bill McFadden, Flynn beat out Ty the giant schnauzer, Biggie the pug, Bean the Sussex spaniel, Lucy the borzoi, Slick the border collie and Winston the Norfolk terrier.
“It feels a little unreal,” McFadden said. “I came in expecting nothing except hoping for a good performance, and I think I got it.”
The people sitting in the stands were obviously pulling for other dogs. Cheers of “Let’s go, Biggie!” bounced all around the arena for the popular pug. Bean was a clear crowd favorite, the way he sat up straight on his hind legs and begged judges for the biggest treat in dogdom.
Ty came into this competition as the nation’s No. 1 show dog last year and finished as the runner-up. He endeared himself to spectators by jumping up and putting his front paws around handler Katie Bernardin after winning the working group earlier in the evening. Slick and Lucy also drew applause.
Almost 6, Flynn was the fourth-ranked show dog in the country last year. Even so, he wasn’t the hot dog when this night began.
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Flynn posted his 42nd career best in show victory in what was almost certainly his last event before retiring. McFadden says it takes two hours to cut his fur before being presented, and not a hair — or step — was out of place for his finale.
The famed JR was the only other bichon to win Westminster, in 2001.
The Westminster-winning team gets no prize money. Instead, there’s a shiny bowl, lucrative breeding fees and, most of all, a lifetime of memories.
Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle