Wednesday, February 11, 2009


It was a Hollywood ending, a Rocky IV for the dog world. The beloved veteran, who everyone thought had his best days behind him, bounces back from a life threatening illness, and wins the biggest victory of life. But this wasn’t Hollywood and it wasn’t Sylvester Stallone.

It was the 133rd annual show of the Westminster Kennel Club and it was the Sussex Spaniel, CH Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, better known as “Stump”. The ten year old dog had retired from the show ring five years ago, after a serious illness nearly cost him his life. Since then he had been content to play the role of the beloved family pet.

But owner/handler Scott Sommer and co-owners Cecilia Ruggles & Beth Dowd thought that Stump deserved one last chance at the dog show world’s biggest prize, the Westminster Dog Show. Rocky only had to get by Apollo Creed, but Stump had to get past six dogs in the Breed, 27 dogs in the Sporting Group, and six of the best dogs in the world in Judge Sari Brewster Tietjen’s Best In Show Ring.

Owner/Handler Scott Sommer & Stump

Those six dogs had amassed a total of 200 Best In Show titles among themselves in 2008 and Stump had not been in the ring in five years. The six other finalists were the Scottish Deerhound, CH Gayleward's Tiger Woods, the Giant Schnauzer, CH Galilee's Pure Of Spirit, the Scottish Terrier, CH Roundtown Mercedes Of Maryscot, the Standartd Poodle, CH Randenn Tristar Affirmation, the Brussels Griffon, CH Cilleine Masquerade, and the Puli, CH Cordmaker Field Of Dreams.

The Final Ring at Westminster is as formal an affair as the sport of dogs has. Judge Tietjen wore an evening ensemble of an embroidered jacket over a long skirt. The show committee all wore black tie. Even most of the dogs dressed formal. The Scottie, Giant, Poodle, and Puli all wore black. The Deerhound opted for dress grey. Only the Brussels, who hails from Missouri, wore a brown tweed. Stump, with his short stature, shuffling gait, and golden liver uniform, stood out like a pair of brown shoes.

But as the camera panned in to show a national audience the soulful eyes of the Sussex, we saw a faint smile from Judge Tietjen and like the great heavyweight prizefight that it is, it was up to the Judge to announce the winner, the 2009 Westminster Best in Show dog, the veteran Sussex Spaniel, Stump, the oldest Best In Show Winner In Westminster history. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better story.

Our congratulations to breeders Douglas Horn, Douglas Johnson, & Dee Duffy and all of Stump’s owners.


  1. Meh, whatever. From your own chat room comments, Spirit didn't put a paw wrong and the Puli was really asking for it. I was rooting for Spirit but would have been less disgruntled with the Puli, Yes, or Sadie.

    Cheers for the veteran, I guess, but one wonders why he came out of retirement so recently for this show.


    Well, I hope he's a sweet and personable dog because I'd hate to lose the momentum and good press Uno brought to the dog show world. Maybe he'll be seen as cuddly and sweet??

  2. We have now joined the ranks of WWF wrestling. Shame on Westminster for allowing politics to dominate our sports biggest venue. People who avoid showing because of politics are now validated. It is a great story for hollywood but those of us who show dogs live in a real world.

  3. Nothing wrong with an Owner/Handler winning this big show.

  4. I was thrilled to see the old guy win. Just because your favorite didn't win, suddenly it's all "politics"? Whatever. All the dogs in the BIS lineup were great, and the judge could have picked any one of them. To say that Stump didn't deserve the win is ridiculous. And if you're worried about the "good press" for the dog show world, I think Stump's "Cinderella story" win will bring more good press than another win by a poodle or some other breed that the general public tends to regard as fancy "froo-froo" dogs.

    Go Stump!

  5. Scott is not you typical owner/handler. He is one of the most successful professional handlers in the game. He is a co-owner of Stump and Stump lives with him.

  6. Scott is a great handler with a reputation to back it up and Stump had to be the sentimental favorite. All that said, a different judge with less toy/sporting focus and more working breed familarity would have judged against the breed standards and we would have seen a different outcome. In Stump, the crowd and sentimental favorite won but a BIS should be about conformation...

  7. Marketing and good PR won at westminster, plain and simple. The dog doesn't show all year, and wins? Pul-lease! I've got a twenty spot that says the decision was made before the judge entered the ring. So take if for what it is, Westminster got another year of great PR and lost a considerble amount of credibility.

  8. I agree with it not being political. I'm sorry but I feel if Spirit would have won it would have been political because she was the all time winning Giant and she was number one. I don't care about that! If we go on that then no one should enter but the number one dog because they are going to win. I think it's great that Stump won and dogs have come out of retirement before to win big shows and people don't say anything. I personally feel that Spirit didn't look like a number one dog last night. She did't move well in the group and her coat didn't appear to be as nice as I have seen it in the past. But I personally expect to see Spirit back at WKC in a few years when they have a panel they feel she can win with. Are you all going to be mad then?

    Thank goodness for Stump!

  9. How rude to talk about Sari like that. She can judge the standard of the dogs like anyone other good judge. Better than most out there!

  10. There were some of the most fabulous dogs in the world at Westminster and the show was great to watch. My concerns are. Can Stump handle the schedual to represent as Uno did and is it fair to ask him to? I am sure the PETA people will be all over this. Was he really the best of his breed let alone the group or BIS? Scott is one of the best handlers of our time and it is a great story but lets be real, the show is about conformation and the best dog not the best story.

  11. Whatever your take on Stump's win, it does put a dent in the AR crazies agenda - here is a HEALTHY showdog at age 10. We should be proactive about THAT fact. We breed healthy dogs!

  12. I think the golden, Treasure, was the best dog in the Sporting group. I still don't think Treasure is a better dog than Spirit though. . .

  13. With all due respect(and I have the highest regard for Stump), last night reminded me of a certain black and white ESS going Best at the Garden several years ago -- as his esteemed and elderly breeder sat ringside (no names need be mentioned). There is only one concept to keep in mind: the best dog on the day. BIS should never be an emotional decision; it is not based on "cuteness". The lineup last night was bursting with quality, yet Sari's decision placed emotion first, and the return of Stump after an absence of years seemed to be far from a coincidence.

  14. Posting again, promise this will be it on this topic, but this has been bugging me all day. Stump's handler's disingenuous comments in news articles before the show were: Stump came out of retirement "just for fun" and it was to be "just like a walk in the backyard for him." Yeah, right. "Just for fun" would be a veterans class at your local show. You go to the time and expense of prepping and taking a dog to the Garden, it ain't no way no how like a walk in your backyard. Let's at least be open about that.

    Have to wonder along with the poster before me who said the timing seems "far from a coincidence." Why in the world after all these years, and to Westminster?

    A poster last night noted that it was nice that a dog that hadn't had a $$$ campaign won. Well, maybe. Whether you've campaigned or not shouldn't matter, conformation to the breed standard should, but if you're going to use that argument as a "pro" I'd reply there's a flip side that's not so good: You can campaign a dog, supporting many KC's and the fancy in general weekend after weekend, having your dog be a great ambassador for purebred dogs ALL SEASON LONG, and your effort will not be rewarded, even with a truly outstanding dog on the end of your lead.

    But Stump won and I do hope he will be asked and will be physically able to accept the kind of public appearances Uno was/is able to do. However much sentiment was in his favor, Stump sure didn't seem to have much sparkle last night to me, although that is very subjective I realize.