Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Flynn the Bichon Frisé wins Best in Show at Westminster

Flynn the Bichon Frisé wins Best in Show at Westminster

Purebred shows have their share of critics from animal rights groups, including PETA, which say the contests reward superficial qualities and say the focus should be on finding good homes for dogs in shelters. Instead, there's a shiny bowl and lucrative breeding fees.

The 142nd Westminster event drew 2,882 entries in 202 breeds and varieties, according to The Associated Press.

"It feels a little unreal", Bill McFadden, his handler, said.

McFadden has been showing the Bichon Frise breed at Westminster since 1991.

McFadden said he believed this would be Flynn's final year at the competition.

Recognized for its fluffy white coat and baby-doll face, with charcoal-coloured eyes and nose, the bichon frise is known for its perky, good-natured disposition.

Dogs are judged on the basis of how well they stack up against breed characteristics as set by the American Kennel Club.

"I love all dogs, both purebreds and crossbreds alike, but this is a special celebration of purebred dogs, the best of the best, purposely bred by responsible dog breeders", Stenmark said, to applause from the crowd.

The victor of the sporting group, Bean, a Sussex spaniel from Hampden, Massachusetts, endeared himself to the crowd with a well-timed trick.

Wire fox terriers have proven the most frequent winners at Westminster, having clinched the top prize a record 14 times. Flynn represented the non-sporting category. The groups are terriers, toy dogs, working dogs, herding dogs, sporting dogs, non-sporting dogs, and hounds. Bean, who was sure to replicate his move a few times during best in show judging - some in the crowd chanted "Beannn!" in reply - is the grandson of Stump, who in 2009, at 10 years old, became the oldest dog to win best in show.

Dogs joined this year's contest from all 50 USA states and 16 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Russia, Australia and China, the Westminster Kennel Club said in a statement. The terrier group is consistently ranked the reigning group in the competition and has taken the most "Best in Show" awards.

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