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Old dog provides best in show trick

THIS old dog taught Westminster a new trick.

At 10, a Sussex spaniel called Stump became the oldest best in show winner at America's top canine competition, coming out of retirement last week and taking the big prize on Tuesday night in New York City.

"He hasn't slowed down a bit," handler Scott Sommer said. "I thought it would be fun."

A nearly full crowd at Madison Square Garden cheered loudly when judge Sari Tietjen pointed to the new champion at the Westminster Kennel Club. Perhaps the fans knew Stump's backstory. He left the show ring in 2004 and later nearly died from a mysterious medical condition. The veterinarians at Texas A&M saved him.

"It was miraculous," Sommer said.

Then again, maybe folks just liked rooting for the old guy. In human years, he's 70.

Sommer said Sussex spaniels can live to be 15. Never before had a dog from this breed won the show. The previous oldest winner was an 8-year-old Papillon in 1999.

With floppy ears and a slow gait, the golden-red Stump beat out a sparkling final field. Sommer guided him past a giant schnauzer that was the nation's top show dog, a favored Brussels griffon, a Scottish deerhound named Tiger Woods, a standard poodle with 94 best in show wins, a Scottish terrier and a puli.

After he won, Stump showed off his one trick: He got up on his hinds, as if begging. He didn't have to, he was already No. 1.

Nearly 2,500 dogs were entered at Westminster. Last year's champion, a beagle named Uno, was perhaps the most popular winner ever.


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