Bill Cosby Wins At Westminster

Tuesday, February 13th 2007, 7:04 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The star in Bill Cosby's new hit show already has a big head. A wagging tail, too.

Co-owned by the comedian, a 6-year-old Dandie Dinmont called Harry won the always tough terrier group at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Monday night.

``They were all beautiful dogs out there,'' daughter Erinn Cosby said, ``but there was only one.''

She celebrated by rushing onto the green carpet at Madison Square Garden to give the dog a kiss smack on the mouth. Her dad was absent; Cosby had lost here with good dogs in the past, and wanted to avoid any jinx.

``Bill thinks he has bad luck here in New York. But I want to change that,'' said Bill McFadden, Harry's handler.

Harry finished fourth among terriers at Westminster last year when he slipped on the carpet, then became the country's No. 1 show dog. After this win at America's No. 1 pooch parade, Cosby might revise his travel plans to attend best in show Tuesday night.

``I just called him. Can you imagine anyone being more excited than him?'' his 40-year-old daughter said. ``And I'm not saying anything about where he'll be tomorrow.''

A top poodle bred in Japan won the toy group, a standard poodle took the nonsporting category and a female Akita with a fluffy, full coat won the working group.

The sporting, hounding and herding winners will be picked Tuesday night. Shortly before 11 p.m., the silver bowl for the top prize will be presented.

An English springer spaniel that won the recent AKC/Eukanuba event and a precious Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen were among the other main contenders.

Clipped and combed right before showing, Harry constantly wagged his tail as if he'd spied a liver treat. His big black eyes lit up at the crowd's cheers.

Dandies are a rare breed and, in fact, the pepper-and-white Harry was the only one of his kind among the 2,628 entries at Westminster. Up close, they look something like a Dachshund crossed with a pouffy, bigheaded poodle.

``You can't be in a bad mood when you're around them. They're clowns,'' McFadden said.

Terriers are no strangers at Westminster. They've won 44 of the 99 times that best in show has been presented.

No Akita has ever won the event. A 3-year-old female called Macey hopes to become the first.

``She has an awesome temperament,'' handler Laurie Jordan-Fenner said. ``She has lots of fans wherever she goes.''

A pair of white poodles also advanced.

Kaz Hosaka, who guided a miniature poodle to best in show in 2002, handled the winning toy this team. Vikki is 3 years old and trimmed with pompoms.

``She's very independent. She doesn't listen to me,'' Hosaka said. ``She does her own thing. She knows she looks good.''

A 2 1/2-year-old standard poodle called Remy was bouncing around the ring.

``She was very charged up,'' handler Chris Manelopoulos said. ``It's been a long day.''

And it wasn't over yet. Manelopoulos said he'd groom Remy for two hours after the show and four more hours Tuesday.

Westminster is a champions-only show for purebreds. With 165 breeds and varieties, many dogs come with interesting backstories. There is a vizsla that was bitten by a rattlesnake, a Dachshund that looks for bones on archaeological digs, and a Great Dane that posed on David Bowie's album cover.

Among the missing: Rufus and Vivi.

Rufus, whose perfect football-sized noggin made him head of the class last year, has retired. Vivi, the 3-year-old whippet who ran away at Kennedy Airport last February right after winning a ribbon, is still missing.

Harry is royalty in the show world, having won 57 events last year, and fittingly is named for Prince Harry. He's playful and a bit of a mischief maker _ much like his namesake.

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.

``He loves to show,'' McFadden said.

Dandie breeders tend to be selective, hence their low number. Only four Dandies showed at Westminster last year; this time, no one dared challenge Harry.

Fans packed three-deep around the velvet ropes in the afternoon to see Harry. With just one Dandie in competition, he merely needed to take a leisurely stroll to win best of breed.

Alan Lazar came from Boston with his two daughters, eager to catch a glimpse of Harry.

``Actually, I've never seen one,'' he said. ``I wouldn't know him if I saw him.''