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WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW

Scottish terrier best; protest mars event

Sadie, the Scottish terrier that won Best in Show, takes part in the terrier group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Sadie, the Scottish terrier that won Best in Show, takes part in the terrier group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. (AP Photo)
By Ben Walker
Associated Press / February 17, 2010

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NEW YORK - Sadie the Scottish terrier won America’s top dog show last night, and that was pretty predictable. What happened moments before she took the title at Westminster was far more startling.

Two women walked into the center ring at Madison Square Garden and held up signs that said “Mutts Rule’’ and “Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs’ Chances,’’ the latter a slogan popularized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The crowd of 15,000 gasped at the PETA-inspired protest, then booed the women and cheered as security ushered them away without incident. The women were charged with criminal trespass, police said.

The interruption lasted about a minute and was not seen on the USA Network telecast. Moments later, the 4-year-old Sadie climbed the purple best in show podium where one of the women had stood.

“I thought it was well-controlled by our people,’’ Westminster spokesman David Frei said, without elaborating.

Sadie was a big favorite coming into the show, which is for 2,500 purebred dogs. There have been previous protests at Westminster, but none nearly this dramatic. As a matter of course, the public-address announcer at the Garden reads an announcement urging people to visit shelters and adopt their dogs.

Sadie came to New York as America’s No. 1 show dog and earned her 112th best in show ribbon. Also reaching the final ring were a brittany that recently had two litters, a whippet that can run 35 m.p.h., a Doberman pinscher headed into retirement, a white toy poodle who overcame his anxiety around crowds, a Canadian-bred French bulldog and a puli that twice won the herding group.

“She was perfect,’’ handler Gabriel Rangel said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.’’

Her tongue out and her tail wagging, Sadie was right in step with Rangel. She is owned by Amelia Musser of Mackinac Island, Mich., and sports the champion’s name of Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot.

Rangel kidded that his relationship with Sadie was like a marriage. “I’m happily married,’’ he said, “as long as I say, ‘Yes, honey.’ ’’

Sadie became the eighth Scottie to win at Westminster, second most to the 13 wins by wire fox terriers. She was the record 45th terrier to win in a show that began in 1877.

Judge Elliott Weiss picked the winner. He’d already seen Sadie - he chose her as the winner of a show in North Carolina last September.

Sadie became the first Triple Crown winner of dogdom. She took the National Dog Show in suburban Philadelphia in November and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December.

This was Sadie’s third try at Westminster. She got spooked by strange sounds at the Garden two years ago, and last February had a potty accident on the Garden’s green carpet.

Garden fans cheer loudly for big dogs, and thundering mastiffs got a great reception. There was a murmur, too, when a sweet golden retriever got passed over by a judge. Retrievers always rank among the most popular dogs in the US, but have never won Westminster.

Dogs from 173 breeds and varieties entered this show. Westminster will welcome six more breeds next year, including the bluetick coonhound, best known to sports fans as the Smokey mascot at the University of Tennessee.