Rumor has it: The top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show
NEW YORK, N.Y. — It was quite a rally for Rumor — and a commanding comeback for German shepherds.
Rumor was crowned America's top dog Tuesday night when she came out of retirement to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) dog show in New York. It was a year after a near miss on the very same green carpet.
Cheered loudly all around the ring by a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, she is just the second German shepherd champion since the event began in 1877.
"Unbelievable," handler and co-owner Kent Boyles said.
"She Is Just Magnificent"
In a year that has seen plenty of late, startling twists in sports — think Patriots, Cubs and Cavaliers — Rumor pulled out something of a shocker. She had been at home in Wisconsin for months, a house pet headed toward having puppies, when she suddenly jumped back into the show ring in January.
Boyles is a fan of the Green Bay Packers and the team's star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Seeing a pet go from the couch to this top prize is a dog's version of a Hail Mary pass.
Five-year-old Rumor beat out a Norwegian elkhound, a Pekingese, a miniature poodle, an Irish setter, a boxer and a Norwich terrier in the final ring. The Irish setter named Adrian finished second.
"The German shepherd standard talks about quality and nobility," judge Thomas Bradley III said. "When you recognize it, it hits you at home, and that's what it really is. She is just magnificent."
Win Number 104
Rumor is named for the hit song "Rumor Has It" by Adele, also a champion after sweeping the major prizes at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.
This was the 104th career win for Rumor, and earlier in the day, Boyles said that this would definitely, for real, be her last major show.
"She's going to be relaxing for a while," Boyles said after the win, but ultimately, there are "puppies in her future."
Clearly the crowd favorite, Rumor came out flying into the best-of-7 final ring to fans whistling and calling her name.
Rumor raised up for a well-deserved treat right after the win. Moments later, as Boyles did post-show interviews, Rumor spotted him and ran toward the man who guided her to victory.
German Shepherd Duo Winners
Rumor joined the fittingly named Manhattan in 1987 as the only German shepherds to take Best in Show at the Garden.
There were nearly 2,800 dogs entered in the 141st Westminster dog competition, spread across the 202 allowed breeds and varieties.
The moment any German shepherd steps into the ring at the Garden, the crowd goes crazy.
New Yorkers just love the dog breed.
Some say it's because rooting for a German shepherd is the same as putting on an NYPD or FDNY hat. It's standing up for a dog that stood tall at a time of the city's greatest need.
"My sentiments, exactly," Boyles said.
Soooo Close In 2016
While German shepherds had not won a lot here, many of them were on the green carpet of the center ring in 2002 when Westminster honored search-and-rescue dogs for their tireless work at the World Trade Center and Pentagon following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The solemn tribute is considered by many to be the most cherished memory ever at Westminster.
"They're loyal, dependable dogs that you can count on," Boyles said.
Rumor nearly won Westminster last year. She came to town as the nation's number 1 show dog with more than 100 overall ribbons but was surprisingly beaten by a German shorthaired pointer named CJ.
In fact, when the judge began to announce his champion pick with "German sh...," Boyles took a step forward, anticipating the prize.
"I was thinking," Boyles said.
Rumor's Short-Lived Retirement
That was supposed to be Rumor's last show and she was set to head home with Boyles to Edgerton, Wisconsin, to be a house pet and have puppies. She did not conceive and late in the year, Boyles thought twice about Rumor's retirement.
"She liked to show and was in good shape, so we thought, why not?" he said.
Rumor went back to competing in January for 10 shows. She won the herding group Monday night in New York, beating top show favorite Preston the puli.
She topped that with the huge win at America's most prestigious dog show, rewarding the faith German shepherd fans always show in them.
"It's a recognizable dog. People have liked them for a long, long time," WKC President Sean McCarthy said earlier. "I think it goes back to Rin Tin Tin."