Therapy Dog Is Best In Show At Westminster

An English springer spaniel named Ch Felicity's Diamond Jim, also known as James, poses for pictures with his handler Kellie Fitzgerald after winning best in show at the 131st Westminster dog show in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) AP

An English springer spaniel with a preference for chicken-and-garlic treats prevented America's top dog event from turning into "The Cosby Show."

Diamond Jim jumped into handler Kellie Fitzgerald's arms after being picked for best in show Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Dressed in a glittering copper top that perfectly matched her brown-and-white dog, Fitzgerald cuddled her 6-year-old certified therapy dog.

Diamond Jim beat out a Dandie Dinmont terrier co-owned by Bill Cosby, as he did at the big AKC/Eukanuba event in December. The springer was the nation's No. 2 show dog last year behind Cosby's entry — Fitzgerald also repeated, having gone best in show at Westminster in 2000.

"I'm over the moon," she said.

Judge Robert Indeglia said he wished he had seven ribbons to present to the final contenders at Madison Square Garden. Given only a purple-and-gold one, he pointed to Diamond Jim.




This was his 51st best in show victory, and his last. Commonly called James, he's retiring from the show world to live the life of a therapy and obedience dog.

2"I wanted him to go out with a bang," Fitzgerald said.

Diamond Jim beat out the Dandie Dinmont, a pair of white poodles and a petit basset griffon vendeen, plus an Akita and a Bouviers des Flandres that pitted a husband and wife against each other. Larry Fenner handled the Bouviers and Laurie Jordan-Fenner guided the Akita.

With a few dogs barking and baying backstage, Diamond Jim was judged the best of the overall 2,628 entries in 165 breeds and varieties.

This was the 100th time that best in show was presented at Westminster, and the sixth time that an English springer spaniel won.

Cosby's run of bad luck on the green carpet of the Garden continued. He'd lost with several top dogs in the past, and avoided coming this time to stave off the jinx.

The Dandie named Harry was the nation's top show dog last year with 57 best in show victories. He fell short at Westminster last February when he slipped on the slick carpet.

3After winning the sporting group earlier in the evening, Fitzgerald was asked about again going against the Dandie. She was aware the upsets had a way of happening at this event.

"It's the Garden and it's Westminster, anything can happen," she said.

Diamond Jim will stay with Fitzgerald for about a week in Bear, Del. — "he likes my big backyard" — before heading home to his owners in Virginia.

Terriers have won 44 times at Westminster and Harry was certainly drew his share of cheers from the crowd of about 15,000.

Cosby's daughter, Erinn, sat in the second row and hoped for a big win. On Monday night, she kissed her dad's dog on the mouth after he won best of breed.

Named for Prince Harry, the dog officially named Hobergays Fineus Fogg was bred in New Zealand and won 30 events in Australia before going to live in Pleasanton, Calif.
By Ben Walker
  • Francie Grace

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