By Linda Cole
After a dog has won top honors at the most prestigious dog show in the world, what else is there left to accomplish? A win at the Westminster Dog Show is the highlight of any show dog’s career and most winners are ready to kick back and retire from the ring, but not all of them. Here’s what a few past Westminster champions have been doing since their big win.
Rufus the colored Bull Terrier, 2006 winner
Ch. Rocky Top’s Sundance Kid, better known as Rufus, the colored Bull Terrier, made Westminster history when he delighted the crowd and won Best in Show. Rufus retired after his crowning as the 100 year dog and the only colored Bull Terrier to win at Westminster. However, he isn’t a canine to sit back on his haunches and while away his retirement years. When his owner, Barb Bishop, saw that he was getting bored, she decided he needed a job. Rufus is now a certified therapy dog, giving comfort to people in nursing homes and hospitals. He is also an ambassador for bully breeds, teaching children about responsible dog ownership, and educating people about breed specific legislation and myths about the bully breeds.
James the English Springer Spaniel, 2007 winner
Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim was a therapy dog beginning at the age of seven months. After retiring from the dog show ring, he simply picked up where he had left off. Owner Teresa Patton and James worked with Angel on a Leash, as well as other pet therapy organizations. He also helped raise around $15,000 participating in memory walks for the Alzheimer’s Association. After winning at Westminster, James went on to finish four rally titles and won his first obedience title. Sadly, James passed away in May 2011 from lymphoma. He was one of the oldest Springer Spaniels to win at Westminster.
Uno the Beagle, 2008 winner
Ch. K-Run’s Park Me in First went on a nationwide tour with David Frei, Westminster’s famous announcer and founder of Angel on a Leash, as an ambassador to help promote canine therapy work. Uno was a busy Beagle and tossed out the first pitch at baseball games, put in appearances at art galleries and charity fundraisers, rode on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float, turned on purple and gold lights at the Empire State Building for the 2009 Westminster Week celebrations, and was an honored guest at the White House. Now, Uno is happy being just a dog, hanging out with his best friend Caroline Dowell, playing with his canine buddies, and snoozing on Caroline’s bed.