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Rumor abounds to move within sniff of victory at dog show

By Associated Press in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-15 07:31

A German shepherd called Rumor who just missed winning at the United States' top dog show last year came back to score a big victory on Monday night, beating out favored Preston the puli in the herding group.

To the cheers of the Westminster Kennel Club crowd at Madison Square Garden, Rumor joined a miniature poodle, a Pekingese and a Norwegian elkhound in the best-of-seven final ring. She'll face three more group winners still to be picked Tuesday night, right before the champ is chosen.

Rumor was the nation's No 1 show dog last year when she came to the Garden. But she fell short when a German shorthaired pointer named CJ won in a surprise, and it was thought that Rumor would retire.

Asked about the chances of 5-year-old Rumor adding to her 103 career championship ribbons, handler and co-owner Kent Boyles said, "I have no idea ... You never know."

"Really good competition," Boyles said, adding that he was "pretty nervous".

Nearly 2,800 dogs across 202 breeds and varieties were entered. Plenty of them were crowd favorites, if not winners.

A toy fox terrier just wanted to stand still. A papillon lived up to its name - "butterfly", in French - by fluttering around. And a sloughi, one of three new breeds at this year's show, kept yawning.

Preston came in with 95 total wins, known for a black, corded coat so thick that it's often hard to see any of his features. His hair takes up to five hours to dry, helped by a couple of industrial carpet blowers that create a "swirly, tornado effect," handler and co-owner Linda Pitts said.

In an upset, Duffy the Norwegian elkhound took the hound group. She topped Lucy the borzoi, second overall at Westminster last year, and Gia the greyhound, champ of the National Dog Show televised last Thanksgiving Day.

Hound judge Polly Smith perked up some ears, too. In an interview shown on the scoreboard, she started out, "This bitch epitomized type." That's the proper term for a female dog, but predictably it drew laughs and guffaws from the crowd.

Chuckie the Pekingese won the toy group. Not yet 2, he already has a legacy as his dad Malachy won Westminster in 2012. A black miniature poodle pranced off with nonsporting group.

Watching little Raina McCloskey romp around the show ring with her borzoi buddy, it was hard to tell who was leading whom.

Because, really, Briar was so big Raina could've ridden him.

As fans noticed the unlikely pairing in the breed competition a 7-year-old girl, in her aqua princess dress, galloping with her elegant 8-year-old pal the sweet sound of "awwwww" filled the ring.

Moments later, Raina took a tumble when her pink sneakers caught on the green, uneven carpet. She bounced up, drew a loud cheer and finished the run alongside Briar.

They both made the first cut of the 27 borzoi entries.

Asked if she had a fun time, Raina simply smiled. Instead, she kept her eyes on Briar, nuzzling him.

No words necessary.

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