Five Westminster BIS winners featured at sold-out event

By Kelly Rubin

It was the greatest collection of show dogs ever in one place - five Westminster Best In Show winners dating back to 2001.  The occasion was the first ever Angel On A Leash Best In Show benefit, and on the Saturday evening before Westminster 2009, a capacity crowd filled the Affinia Hotel ballroom in a sold-out event hosted by Ruth Pereira.

The attendees got to see Uno, the Beagle (2008); James, the English Springer Spaniel (2007); Rufus, the Colored Bull Terrier (2006), Spice Girl, the Miniature Poodle (2002); and JR, the Bichon Frise (2001).  Never have so many Westminster BIS dogs been in the same place at the same time. 

Fans of these shining stars of the dog show world and their proud owners filled the room and saw five dogs that many suggested could be right at home in the show ring today.  The media hour held prior to the event attracted representatives from New York media and the dog world and resulted in coverage in the New York Times, MSNBC, Associated Press, Animal Planet and more.

A special guest drew extended and respectful applause.  Marine Cpl. Josh Bleill, who lost both of his legs in an explosion in Iraq, was visited by Uno as an Angel therapy dog at the Walter Reed Amputee Patient Clinic last spring.  Westminster invited Josh to come to the 2009 show.  He was accompanied by his fiancé, Nikki Tooley, and was also introduced on the floor of the Garden on Monday evening in an Angel tribute.  Cpl. Bleill is joining the Angel board to help coordinate therapy dog programs with military hospitals. 

Westminster Kennel Club