Lily Mancini of Sherman, Connecticut, and her English springer spaniel have won the junior showmanship competition at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
The juniors finals were Tuesday night, before judging continued toward best in show.
Ninety-five junior handlers were invited to the nation’s most prestigious dog show. Its top juniors prize increased this year from a $6,000 scholarship to a $10,000 scholarship. The eight finalists all get some education money.
Junior handlers are between 9 and 18. They’re judge on their presentation of their dogs, not the dogs’ particulars.
But many also go up against adults to exhibit dogs in the breed judging that goes toward best in show.
The juniors finals ended on a light note when a Newfoundland paused for a leisurely pee before leaving the ring.
Animal-rights activists have protested outside the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. They say it irresponsibly promotes dog breeding when many dogs in shelters need homes.
A small band of protesters from groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held signs Tuesday afternoon outside the Manhattan piers where early rounds of the show happen. Some demonstrators brought mixed-breed dogs along.
Ashley Byrne of PETA says “events like this just promote buying dogs as objects,” instead of adopting them.
The show recently added agility and obedience events open to mixed breed dogs, and Westminster is emphasizing this year that breed clubs also rescue dogs. Some $15,000 in new awards went Monday to clubs for bearded collies, English cocker spaniels and great Pyrenees.
Byrne says the clubs don’t do enough.
Sometimes, getting to the main event at Westminster is simply a numbers game.
To be the best golden retriever, a dog needed to beat out 51 others in their breed. To be the top Vizsla, it meant going against 44 other entries.
It’s pretty dandy to be a Dandie — a Dandie Dinmont, that is. There were only two of them in Ring 1 today, so handler Sarah Crepeau of Massachusetts thought she had a pretty good chance of winning with Joker.
“I felt confident,” she said.
A couple minutes and a couple times around the ring later, the judge picked Joker and they were on their way to the terrier group final at Madison Square Garden.
Crepeau says some shows she attends, there aren’t any Dandie Dinmonts. It’s a rare breed, although best in show judge Betty-Anne Stenmark has worked with them for over four decades and lives with four at home in California.
Some dogs had an even easier path. There was only one komondor entered, so she was an automatic winner. There also was just one sloughi entered. But it was a no-show, so no sloughi shoo-in.
Ty the giant schnauzer has taken his first steps toward what could be a giant prize at the Westminster Kennel Club.
The nation’s top-ranked show dog was judged best in his breed Tuesday. He moves on to the working group competition in the evening at Madison Square Garden.
America’s top pooch will be picked Tuesday night. There will be seven dogs in the best of show ring. Already earning spots are Biggie the pug, Lucy the borzoi, Slick the border collie and Flynn the bichon frise.
Being No. 1 going into Westminster doesn’t mean a dog will go best in show. Underdogs and upsets are way more than norm on the green carpet of the Garden.