Wednesday, February 11, 2009
My New Hero
Stump is the new champion of the Westminster Kennel Club, and in human years, he is 70 years old! You didn't have to teach this old dog new tricks. He just had to activiate his memory. There's hope for us old things after all. NEW YORK — An old Sussex spaniel taught dogdom a new trick. At 10, Stump became the oldest best in show winner ever at the Westminster Kennel Club, coming out of retirement only last week and walking off with the top prize Tuesday night. Click here for photos. A nearly full crowd at Madison Square Garden cheered loudly when judge Sari Tietjen pointed to the new champion. Perhaps the fans knew Stump's backstory — he almost died in 2004 from a medical condition, saved by the vets at Texas A&M. "It was miraculous," expert handler Scott Sommer said. Then again, maybe folks just liked rooting for the old guy. In human years, he's almost 70! Never before had a Sussex spaniel won the nation's top pooch 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 field. Sommer guided him past a giant schnauzer that was ranked the nation's No. 1 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. Stump won the sporting group at Westminster in 2004, then went into retirement. Soon after, he nearly wasted away and spent 19 days in a pet hospital. "It was very traumatic," Sommer said. Once he recovered, Stump mostly spent his days hanging out with Sommer, living a dog's life. That was more than fine with Sommer. He'd already handled a great Bichon Frise to the best in show at Westminster in 2001, and wasn't looking for Stump to try again. Then five days before this show, Sommer thought Stump might enjoy one last walk on the green carpet at the Garden. And what a walk it was.