NEW YORK – Erinn Cosby called her famous dad, then ran onto the green carpet at Madison Square Garden for more pressing business: Kissing one lucky dog smack on the mouth. Co-owned by Bill Cosby, a 6-year-old Dandie Dinmont named Harry won the always tough terrier group at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Monday night.
"They were all beautiful dogs out there," Erinn Cosby said, "but there was only one."
Harry entered the No. 1 dog show in America as the country's top dog. But favorites often fall at this event, perhaps the reason the comedian stayed away.
"Bill thinks he has bad luck here in New York. But I want to change that," said Bill McFadden, Harry's handler.
Cosby originally was going to miss the show. After the win, however, plans may have changed.
"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."
Clipped and combed right before showing, Harry charmed judge Richard Meen — "he was the epitome of the breed standard," he said. Constantly wagging his tail as if he'd spied a liver treat, his big black eyes lit up at the crowd's cheers.
"He's a natural clown," McFadden said.
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.
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. Then shortly before 11 p.m., the silver bowl for best in show 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.
Westminster is a champions-only show for purebreds, and 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.
With 165 breeds and varieties, the dogs come in all shapes and sizes. The giant Neapolitan mastiff is always a crowd favorite and is judged on the "wham" method — wrinkles, head and mass.
They come in different ages, too. There's a Tibetan spaniel only 13 months old and a schipperke named Nan that's 13 1/2 years old.
"I think in human years, he'd be about 77," said Graham Mocklow, from Bermuda and, indeed, wearing shorts. "He's got a little gray under his muzzle but other than that, he's as young as ever."
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 best in show titles in Australia before coming to live in Pleasanton, Calif.
"He loves to show," McFadden said.
Dandie breeders tend to selective, hence their low number. Only four Dandies showed at Westminster last year; this time, no one dared challenge Harry, who finished fourth among the terriers last February.
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.
Before he stepped into the ring, not everyone knew Harry by sight.
"Where's the Dundee? The Dandie, or whatever you call him," asked a lady sporting a huge diamond ring.
Behind her, a beefy guy wearing a paint-splattered T-shirt craned his neck for a closer view. "Where is he?" he said.
Alan Lazar was in town from Boston with his two daughters. He also was eager to catch a glimpse of Harry.
"Actually, I've never seen one," he said. "I wouldn't know him if I saw him."