Westminster To Pick Best In Show; Uno's Reign Over
NEW YORK (AP) -- Asleep in his crate, Domino looked like the most peaceful, innocent pooch on the planet.
Ha! Just wait, handler Paul Clas cackled.
These Portuguese water dogs can cause all sorts of mischief, he said. And if President Barack Obama really does decide make one the First Dog, look out.
"They'll bring comedy to the White House. Interesting things would happen," Clas said Tuesday at the Westminster Kennel Club show. "I think it would be hilarious."
Pacifying this active breed - among the two the Obamas are considering - isn't always easy, even with a big yard and a big staff. It sometimes takes an extra treat.
"Obama may not take bribes, but his Portuguese water dog would," Clas said.
The top prize at America's No. 1 dog event was to be handed Tuesday night. Judge Sari Tietjen was to point to her pick as best in show shortly before 11 p.m.
A 7-year-old Scottish deerhound named Tiger Woods, a Scottish terrier with a lucky link to the 1967 champion, a standard poodle called Yes and a puli known for its dreadlocks won their groups Monday night.
The sporting, toy and working winners were to be chosen before Tietjen entered the ring at Madison Square Garden. A pert Brussels griffon and a monkey-faced affenpinchser were among the favorites.
The star affenpinscher is named Taser. Fitting, too, because the sons of the husband-and-wife owners founded the stun-gun company.
As he got prepped to win best of breed, Taser stood calmly as a groomer worked him over with a blow dryer and two combs. Taser turns 5 this week and is a veteran, having won 55 other competitions.
"He's a born show dog," handler Jorge Olivera said. "He really knows when everyone is looking at him. It's his time."
There are 170 breeds and varieties at this 133rd edition of Westminster. The giant Dogue de Bordeaux is a newcomer to the show.
A Portuguese water dog has never won Westminster and probably wasn't going to make a strong campaign this year. Still, Klas wouldn't mind having one as a neighbor - he lives in Thurmont, Md., near the presidential retreat of Camp David.
Obama said his family had narrowed the choices to a "Porti" or a Labradoodle, a designer mix of a Labrador retriever and a poodle.
The president has said he is ready to begin visiting shelters with wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia. A main consideration is a dog that is hypoallergenic.
"I like to see them pick the Portuguese water dog. They're a proven breed for many years," Clas said.
Westminster spokesman David Frei, in his 20th year as television host for the show, said the Obamas are doing a good job in taking their time.
"It's an important decision. Whichever dog he picks will probably be with him longer than anyone in his Cabinet," Frei said.
Portis are medium sized, weighing 50 or 60 pounds. They can be black, brown, white or a mix, with either a wavy or curly coat of hair, not fur. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., owns them.
They like to rough house and also need a lot of grooming and attention.
"I was working on my car and he put his paws up on the hood next to me. He wanted to play," Clas said. "I was ignoring him and the next thing I knew, my drill cord was running down the street. He'd taken it."
For that reason, Gale Erskine of Monrovia, Md., would prefer the Obamas go in a different direction. Erskine was part of a Porti at Westminster, and said they're not the easiest dogs for first-time owners.
"We're pushing for a Labradoodle. That's my vote," she said.
Erskine's friend, Terry Herman, said Portuguese water dogs "command intense companionship. They don't take kindly to being ignored."
So, would that be a good fit for the commander in chief?
"Someone who might have to push the red button, I don't know," Herman said. "But I know the Porti would be glad to push any buttons available."