NEW YORK - A 5-year-old Scottish deerhound named Hickory who loves to chase wild animals caught her biggest prize yet, winning best in show Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club.
Judge Paolo Dondina of Italy picked 85-pound Hickory from a best-of-seven final show ring that truly sounded international - there was a Pekingese, Portuguese water dog, Chinese shar-pei, smooth fox terrier, bearded collie, and black cocker spaniel.
A couple of those pooches on the green-carpeted ring at Madison Square Garden were among the country's top show dogs in 2010. Hickory wasn't on that list, but she got to wag her long tail at the end after becoming the first kind of her breed to win the purple-and-gold ribbon and shiny silver bowl.
"People who own, breed, show dogs dream of this day," handler Angela Lloyd said.
Hickory lives on a 50-acre farm in Warrenton, Va., where she enjoys running after deer and rabbits. Owners Sally Sweatt and Cecilia Dove and Scott Dove will certainly let her romp all she wants after this victory.
The 135th Westminster was considered a wide-open field from the start. A smooth fox terrier that was the No. 1 show dog of 2010 recently retired and an Australian shepherd that won the big AKC/Eukanuba event did not enter.
Hickory won the hound group Monday night, then had to wait around all day for her big chance. That was a lot to ask for dogs that feel most comfortable in the wild, and she clearly managed to do just fine.