NEW YORK – An English springer spaniel with a preference for chicken-and-garlic treats prevented America's top dog event from turning into "The Cosby Show."
Dressed in a glittering copper top that perfectly matched her brown-and-white dog, Fitzgerald cuddled her 6-year-old certified therapy dog.
Diamond Jim beat out a Dandie Dinmont terrier co-owned by Bill Cosby, as he did at the big AKC/Eukanuba event in December. The springer was the nation's No. 2 show dog last year behind Cosby's entry — Fitzgerald also repeated, having gone best in show at Westminster in 2000.
"I'm over the moon," she said.
Judge Robert Indeglia said he wished he had seven ribbons to present to the final contenders at Madison Square Garden. Given only a purple-and-gold one, he pointed to Diamond Jim.
This was his 51st best in show victory, and his last. He's retiring from the show world to live the life of a therapy and obedience dog.
"I wanted him to go out with a bang," Fitzgerald said.
Diamond Jim beat out the Dandie Dinmont, a pair of white poodles and a petit basset griffon vendeen, plus an Akita and a Bouviers des Flandres that pitted a husband and wife against each other. Larry Fenner handled the Bouviers and Laurie Jordan-Fenner guided the Akita.
With a few dogs barking and baying backstage, Diamond Jim was judged the best of the overall 2,628 entries. This was the 100th time that best in show was presented at Westminster, and the sixth time that an English springer spaniel won.
Cosby's run of bad luck on the green carpet of the Garden continued. He'd lost with several top dogs in the past, and avoided coming this time to stave off the jinx.
The Dandie named Harry was the nation's top show dog last year with 57 best in show victories. He fell short at Westminster last February when he slipped on the slick carpet.
After winning the sporting group earlier in the evening, Fitzgerald was asked about again going against the Dandie. She was aware upsets had a way of happening at this event.
"It's the Garden and it's Westminster, anything can happen," she said.