Sage the miniature poodle takes best in show honors

May 15, 2024
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Sage, a female miniature poodle, was named best in show at the 148th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night as chosen and announced by judge Rosalind Kramer.

Sage’s handler, Kaz Hosaka of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, seemed overcome by emotion after the win. He said he has been competing in Westminster for 45 years and had planned for this to be his last time at the show. He apprenticed under champion handler Anne Rogers Clark.

“Today’s the day — my last show,” he said. “I’m proud of this dog.”

Sage, with black hair styled in a more formal continental cut, emerged victorious from her non-sporting group competition, with Hosaka holding her snout as she stood stoically in a “stack,” or pose, for group judging.

Hosaka gave Sage a kiss on the snout before she showed off her gait. The dog went up on her hind legs for Hosaka’s attention, but it didn’t seem to detract from her chances.

Four-year-old female German shepherd Mercedes was awarded reserve best in show, essentially second place.

The Westminster Kennel Club was conceived at a New York City hotel called the Westminster, and members held the first competition in 1877. Only the Kentucky Derby has a longer continuous history among U.S. sporting events.

Monday marked the start of the traditional judging that leads to the best in show prize. The new winner was crowned Tuesday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.

The dogs’ journey to the best in show competition includes surviving breed judging and group judging. In breed judging, a dog competes to represent its breed, 201 of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club, the event’s sanctioning body.

Breed winners compete against dogs of often similar breeds and are divided into seven groups, from herding (example: German shepherd) to non-sporting (French bulldog).

Seven group winners compete for best in show and, since the American Kennel Club added it in 2012, reserve best in show.

They’re judged not against one another but against an ideal for their breed.

“You’re judging the dogs against a picture of perfection you have in your mind of the standard,” judge and professional handler Elliott B. Weiss said in an American Kennel Club primer on judging.

Separate competitions for agility, obedience and junior showmanship (by handlers 9 to 18 years old) are held in the days and hours preceding best in show judging Tuesday.

For the first time in the Westminster agility competition’s decadelong history, a mixed-breed dog, a border collie-Papillon mix named Nimble, took top honors, organizers announced Tuesday. The AKC designated Nimble as an “all-American dog,” which it defines as being among breeds developed in the U.S.

Last year’s best in show winner was Buddy Holly, a petit basset griffon Vendéen that also won English, Irish and Australian conformation champion titles ahead of its Westminster victory.



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