As Rumor, a German shepherd, took long, elegant strides around the ring at the 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, she seemed to cover every inch of the green carpet.
It was as if there were no other dogs in the room, and soon that was indeed true as Rumor stood alone, earning best-in-show honors on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“The German shepherd standard talks about quality and nobility,” said Thomas Bradley, the best-in-show judge. “She is just magnificent.”
Last year, Rumor, named after the Adele song “Rumor Has It,” was favored to win it all, but she was upset by a German shorthaired pointer named C. J.
“She had a pretty good night,” Boyles said of Adele. So did Rumor, who defeated Duffy, a Norwegian elkhound; Chuckie, a Pekingese; Aftin, a miniature poodle; Tanner, a Norwich terrier; Devlin, a boxer; and Adrian, an Irish setter and the runner-up.
“He’s the type of dog you want to have a beer with,” said Adrian’s handler, Adam Bernardin.
The 6-year-old Adrian continued to defy expectations and proved that he was not just a pretty redhead.
“He’s not dumb,” Bernardin said, trying to counter the stereotype of the breed. “He’s smart. He just chooses to listen to what he wants to.”
In a ring dominated by male handlers — five of the seven handlers in the final were men — an 81-year-old dog show lifer held her own.
“Work it, girl,” someone from the crowd shouted as Patricia Trotter raced around the ring with Duffy, the Norwegian elkhound.
Trotter got her first Norwegian elkhound, named Candy, in 1949. Since then, Trotter has been a significant part of the breed’s history. She has won the hound group at Westminster 11 times and has claimed just about every honor short of best in show at Westminster.
“This is the dream of everyone,” she said.
Trotter is a retired schoolteacher — “It took me 35 years to get out of eighth grade,” she said — who taught American history, and she has also made history in the dog show world. The American Kennel Club awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award three years ago with a silver bowl, but Westminster’s coveted pewter bowl remains elusive.
Then Garcia melted the crowd’s heart. “For two years, she gave her life for me,” he said. “I can’t ask for anything more.”
Usually, the night before a show, handlers follow a routine. Typically, Devlin would retire to her crate to rest for the big day. “Last night, she slept in the bed with me,” he said. His wife did not seem to mind.
When Garcia woke up Tuesday morning, he started to cry, he said. “This is her last show,” he said. After living with Garcia and his wife in Lillington, N.C., for more than two years, Devlin will return to her owner’s home in British Columbia.
About 90 minutes before Rumor returned to the ring for the best-in-show judging, she rested quietly, with a purple towel over her crate for privacy. Boyles did some calisthenics on the grooming table, stretching his hamstrings.
At home in Edgerton, Wis., they stretch their legs in other ways. Boyles takes his four-wheeler out on the trails as Rumor runs nearby. “I haven’t run over her yet,” he said.
Even though Boyles has said this before, this was probably Rumor’s final show. She will now return home and resume her role as the family pet and hang with her best buddies — a Chihuahua named Massimo and a Chinese crested named X, short for Exorcist.
And just like Adele, motherhood will play a prominent role. “Puppies are in her future,” Boyles said.