Westminster 2018: Flynn the bichon frise wins best in show

Flynn the bichon frise beat out a pug, giant schnauzer, border collie, Norfolk terrier, borzoi and one cheeky Sussex spaniel to win best in show at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York. 

Even before competition in the sporting, working and terrier groups at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, the fluffy white dog from Denver, Colorado, winner of the non-sporting group, had already emerged as a frontrunner for the 142nd rendition of Westminster, the Super Bowl of the dog world. Indeed, that’s exactly that the breed’s name means in French: “fluffy white dog.”

The 5-year-old Flynn, who rose to the top of a pool of 2,882 dogs in the prestigious show — including 175 from New Jersey — triumphed in group competition on Monday. He’s just the second bichon frise in Westminster history to win best in show after the bichon JR became the first in the breed to win the title in 2001. 

“It’s just magical,” said the dog’s handler, Bill McFadden. The dog’s full name: GCHP CH Belle Creek’s All I Care About Is Love. 

“I’m pretty sure I can drop the mic and say he’s retired,” he said of the dog, which is co-owned by Patrina and Bruce Odette, Lindsay Van Keuren, Lorrie Carlton and Larry Letsche. (Multiple co-owners are not uncommon in the show dog world.)

Reserve best in show went to Ty the giant schnauzer, whose co-owner, Sandra Nordstrom, is from Ocean City. Handled by Katie Bernardin of Chaplin, Connecticut, Ty won the working group after entering Westminster ranked No. 1 dog in the country. Ty is co-owned by Carol Mann of West Greenwich, Rhode Island (and, formerly, his breeder, the late Maryann Bisceglia of Pittsburgh). 

The Westminster best in show judge, Betty-Anne Stenmark, who emerged from sequestration at the end of Tuesday night’s broadcast to select the winning canines, made a statement about purebred and mixed-breed dogs before announcing her picks. She was seemingly addressing protest of the dog show on Tuesday by animal-rights groups who say Westminster is unwise to promote breeding when there are dogs in shelters, including many mixed-breed dogs, that need homes. 

“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 only two parts of Westminster dog show to allow mixed-breed dogs, or “all-American” dogs, in the show’s parlance, are the agility and obedience competitions, added in 2014 and 2016, respectively. 

Other group winners at the dog show were Slick the border collie, from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, in the herding group; Lucy the borzoi, from Chiba, Japan, in the hound group…

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