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The Sky’s the Limit: Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

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Wire-haired fox terrier GC Afterall Painting The Sky took the Best in Show title last night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held at Madison Square Garden.

Judge Betty Regina Leininger said that the five-year-old bitch, who was ranked as the number one show dog in the country last year, had what she was looking for:

“She just exudes the essence, the terrier essence.  She was just on, and she showed beautifully.  She had a wonderful expression, and I enjoyed her very much.”

It takes a good handler to bring out the “essence” of any dog in a show ring, and Sky’s co-owner Torie Steele credits handler Gabriel Rangel for creating a great partnership with her dog.  “She just knows how to respond to him.  She’s special.”  Steele got interested in the breed—which has won the most Best in Show titles in the history of the Westminster show—after watching old Thin Man movies.  In that great William Powell/Myrna Loy comic crime series, wire-haired Asta was always making detective Nick Charles look ridiculous.

Not so Sky, whose poised demeanor and lovely head (“She’s so pretty,” says Rangel), put her in front of six other strong contenders, including Portuguese Water Dog Matisse and the evening’s crowd favorite, a Bloodhound named Nathan who also has a man-tracking title (Bloodhounds have such strong scenting ability that they are often used to help find missing persons.)

The Reserve Champion was Standard Poodle GCH Brighton Lakeridge Encore, or Alley, whose retirement show this was.