Westminster Dog Show 2024: Sage, a miniature poodle, wins first prize

NEW YORK (AP) — In a final move, the decision was a wise one.

A little dog named Sage won the grand prize Tuesday night in Dog Show at Westminster Kennel Club, while veteran trainer Kaz Hosaka said that it would be his last time in the most prestigious dog event in the United States. After 45 years of competing and having two top show dogs, he plans to retire.

Sage achieved the 11th victory for poodles of various sizes at Westminster. Only wire fox terriers have won more. The last young dog to win the trophy was Spice with Hosaka in 2002.

“There are no words,” he said in the ring to describe his reaction to Sage’s win before offering a few: “Very happy – exciting.”

Hosaka added that he walked around the ring with agility and pride, and “did a great performance for me.”

Sage bested six other finalists to take home best in show. Second place went to Mercedes, a German shepherd whose trainer, Kent Boyles, had raised a best-in-show winner before.

Others were included in the final round Comet, Shih Tzu who won the American Kennel Club’s Grand National Championship last year; Monty, a giant schnauzer who arrived at Westminster as the top-ranked dog in the country and was a Westminster finalist last year; Louis, an Afghan hound; Micah, the black spaniel; and Frankie, the colorful bull terrier.

As Sage walked around the ring, a protester carrying a sign urging people to “Boycott Ranchers” attempted to climb over and was quickly intercepted by security personnel. Police and animal rights group PETA said three protesters were arrested. Charges have not yet been determined.

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In an event where all competitors are champions on the dog show points system, victory can depend on fine details and outstanding turning at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open Tennis Championships.

Judge Rosalind Kramer said the final lineup was “excellent and wonderful.”

For Monty’s manager and co-owner, Katie Bernardin, “just being in the ring with everyone else is a huge honor.”

“We all love our dogs. He’s a dog stallion,” she said in the ring after Monty’s semifinal win. “He’s strong, powerful and ‘very energetic.'” She said in the ring after Monty’s semifinal victory.

She was so energetic that when Bernardine was pregnant, she practiced obedience and other dog sports with Monty because he needed stimulation.

Dogs first compete against other breeds. The winner of each breed then competes with the others in his or her “group”. The winners of the seven groups will meet in the final round.

The Best in Show winner receives a trophy and a place in dog world history, but there is no cash prize.

Besides the winners, there were other dogs that had fun with the audience. a Lagotto Romagnolo Harry named Harry earned a chuckle from the stadium crowd by sitting down and begging for a treat from his handler, and a Vizsla named Fletcher charmed spectators by jumping on his handler after he finished circling the ring.

There were big cheers, too, for the playful Great Pyrenees named Sebastian, and the Doberman pinscher named Emilio.

Another dog who competed unsuccessfully for a place in the finals was Stache, a Sealyham terrier. He won the nationally televised dog show on Thanksgiving and took first prize at a large dog show in Pennsylvania last fall.

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Stache showcases a rare breed considered endangered even in its native Britain.

“She’s an unknown treasure,” said Staci’s co-owner and co-breeder, Margery Judd, of Cochranville, Pa., who has raised Cialis for half a century. Originally developed in Wales to hunt badgers and other digging game, terriers with hair falling over their eyes are spunky yet comical – Judd calls them “silly ham.”

Westminster can seem like a study in canine contradictions. Just walking around, a visitor can see a chihuahua peering from a carrying case onto a stocky Neapolitan mastiff, a ring full of honey-colored golden retrievers next to a group of stark black giant schnauzers, and trainers with dogs much larger than themselves.

Shane Gishetti was one of them. Ralphie, the 175-pound (34 kg) Great Dane she owns, outshines her by far. It takes a lot of experience to show an animal of this size, but “if you have a relationship with your dog, and you agree with it, it will work,” she said.

In addition, Ralphie, despite his large size, is “very quiet,” Gichetti said. He’s jovial at his Staten Island, New York, home, and he’s as resplendent — as is his clown-patterned coat — when it’s time to step into the ring.

“He’s just an honest dog,” Gichetti said.

The Westminster Show, which dates back to 1877, focuses on traditional judging of purebreds leading to a Best in Show award. But over the past decade, the club has added agility and obedience events open to mixed-breed dogs.

This year, the agility competition was counted First non-pedigree winnera Border Collie Papillon mix named Nimble.

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Kramer, the show’s best judge, made sure to thank “every dog, whether it’s a house dog or a show dog.

“Because you make our lives complete.”


Associated Press photographer Julia Nickinson contributed.

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