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Stump the Sussex Spaniel Takes Top Prize at Westminster

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Stump is the Sussex Spaniel that won Best in Show at the 2009 Westminster Dog Show.  He's like the Obama of dogs, reminding us that if he, a ten-year-old Sussex Spaniel can win best in show -- anyone can. You gotta love him. After rebounding from a near-death experience in 2004, Stump has spent the past five years like most dogs. As his owner, Scott Sommer, told USA, Today, "He's just been hanging out at home and being a pet and sleeping on the bed and doing whatever he wants to do."

Yet unlike most pets, Stump defeated 2,500 of the world's top show dogs to win the sport's highest honor. It came down to a Standard Poodle, a Giant Schnauzer, a Scottish Deerhound, a Puli, a Scottish Terrier, a Brussels Griffon, and Stump  - the Sussex Spaniel - in the final competition for the ultimate honor.  The rousing cheers in Madison Square Garden made it obvious that judge Sari Tietjen had made the right choice. 

"I didn't know who he was or how old he was," Tietjen told the New York Times. "He's just everything that you'd want in the breed, and I couldn't say no to him." True to the breed description, Stump does boast a perfect "rich golden liver color," long body, somber face and cheerful disposition. But sandwiched in the ring by trots and struts, Stump's lackadaisical plodding was clearly welcomed by the thousands of ordinary dog lovers who came to witness the prestigious event that normally bears a total air of pomp, primp and circumstance. 


The X-Factor

Maybe the hard knocks of the his life radiated through his breed-standard hazel eyes, or maybe he was more relaxed than most, not having had to stress about the competition like his opponents, who were informed more than a week ago about their prime-time duties. Like Tietjen said, "there's just something about him that won't let you say no."

Stump, however, can say no to you. When asked if his dog would replicate the globe-trotting year that 2008 champion Uno the Beagle is now putting behind him, Sommer told the Times, "Stump's going to travel back to Houston and kind of stay there. He doesn't travel that much." But being the equivalent of 70 human years old, can you really blame him?


A Champion for the Ages

Never before had a Sussex Spaniel won the nation's top pooch show, nor had any canine so old. The oldest previous winner was a sprite eight. Uno, sorry buddy, but you're not number one any more. 2009 belongs to everyman's dog, to everyone who looks at their pet every day and knows he or she is the best one in the world. Stump is proof that you're right. 

Credit: Reviewed by Dr. Amy I. Attas
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