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A Last Bit of Westminster

Westminster is over for the year, and Best In Show Daily has covered it from almost every angle. But there’s one more bit of history and sentiment I want to share with our readers.

Many people noticed during the Toy Group judging that Dennis McCoy was wearing an unusual cummerbund, although it was difficult to tell from a distance exactly what its design was. It’s actually a special piece that deserves to be shared with the fancy.

On the right, Ch. Lake Cove That’s My Boy, then Ch. Fairview’s No Nonsense, Ch. Whisperwind On a Carousel and Ch. Spotlight’s Spectacular.

On the right, Ch. Lake Cove That’s My Boy, then Ch. Fairview’s No Nonsense, Ch. Whisperwind On a Carousel and Ch. Spotlight’s Spectacular.

As many of our readers know, Dennis won seven Groups at Westminster, a record that has been bested by only a few others. Pat Craige Trotter won 10 Hound Groups between 1970 and 1995, two each with Ch. Vin-Melca’s Vagabond, Ch. Vin-Melca’s Nimbus, Ch. Vin-Melca’s Calista and Ch. Vin-Melca’s Marketta, and one each with Ch. Vin-Melca’s Homesteader and Ch. Vin-Melca’s Call To Arms. Bill McFadden has won eight: three with the Kerry Blue Terrier Eng. Am. Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael and one each with Bichon Ch. Chaminade Le Blanc Chamour (1990), Kerry Ch. Kerrageen’s Hotspur (1991), Wire Fox Terrier Ch. Random Reaction (1997), Dandie Ch. Hobergays Fineus Fogg (2007) and Kerry Ch. Perrisblue Kennislain’s Chelsey. Peter Green has won six Groups and undoubtedly has the best record of Best in Show to Group wins, since he’s taken the top prize four times, in 1968 with Lakeland Ch. Stingray of Derryabah, 1977 with Sealyham Ch. Dersade Bobby’s Girl, in 1994 with Norwich Ch. Chidley Willum The Conqueror and in 1998 with Norwich Ch. Fairewood Frolic. He won two additional Groups with the legendary Wire Ch. Sunnybrook Spot On, in 1974 and 1978. Many other handlers, and a few owner-handlers, have won multiple Groups at Westminster.

But those records are another story, so let’s get back to the one at hand. Dennis won his first Group at the Garden in 1985 with the Toy Poodle Ch. Fairview’s No Nonsense, owned by Joan Hartsock. ‘Nosey’ was top Toy in 1984. In 1991 the Standard, Ch. Whisperwind On a Carousel, was Group First. Then in 1996 Dennis began his five-year winning streak, taking two Groups with the liver-and-white Dalmatian bitch Ch. Spotlight’s Spectacular (‘Penny’ was Number One Non-Sporting dog in 1995 and 1996) and then three in a row with the Standard Ch. Lake Cove That’s My Boy. ‘Treson’ was Top Dog All Breeds in both 1998 and 1999.

Last Christmas Dennis’s dear friend, Mari-Beth O’Neill, presented him with a very special gift: a cummerbund, on which each of his Group winners and their trophies were needlepointed. Stephanie Hedgepath had drawn up the design for the sash, and Mari-Beth and Roz Kramer did the needlework to complete the beautiful piece.

Treson is on the left, and Nosey next to him. Then there’s Peter’s Best in Show trophy standing beside him, and Penny sitting on the right.

You’ll notice a little sliver of pink at the bottom center. That’s a sock. The story goes that early in Peter’s career, fellow handler Carlos Rojas noticed one day when the Poodle went Best in Show that Dennis was wearing pink socks. The next time the two men competed in a final and Dennis won, Carlos asked whether he was wearing those pink socks. Pretty soon his queries about the socks became routine. “He asked me all the time whether I was wearing them, and I started to get superstitious.” Before long, wearing that exact pair of pink socks became a must. Dennis’ mother began to have to darn the holes in them as they became worn, but Peter kept winning Best in Shows and Dennis kept wearing them.

Dennis says that in 1991 when he was preparing his wardrobe for Westminster, he was a little apprehensive about the thought of wearing pink socks with a tux, should Peter win the Group. He decided just to wear his pants a little longer… there was no way he was going to leave his good luck charms behind at such an important show. And the luck those socks carried worked right through the Best in Show win under judge Dorothy Welsh. Those pink socks are still in the back of his drawer, alongside the brand new pair Bill McFadden sent Dennis afterward as a replacement.

As Dennis said following his Toy Group assignment this year in New York, it was “the pinnacle” of his judging career, and he was proud to wear his special cummerbund. It will now go into a shadow box befitting the piece of artwork that it is, where it will stay until… Well, who knows?

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.
  • Lynda Beam (Canine Candids by Lynda) February 22, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    great story, especially the pink sock story!

  • Dan Sayers February 27, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    I had the good fortune of seeing the cummerbund in person at the Garden. It is a real work of art, created by a talented group of women and given out of love for their dear friend.

    Dog people, like their dogs, are man’s best friend.

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