Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Mick is back and looking for prize that eludes him

By Ben Walker
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Dog show fans might remember Mick from last year. Or even the year before. The Kerry blue terrier, the one that USA Network announcer David Frei says, "makes my heart pound when he comes into the ring."

Well, he's back, and well on his way to the only major title he's never won - best in show at Westminster.

Beaten out in the finals the last two times on the green carpet at Madison Square Garden, Mick breezed through the best of breed and the best of group judging Monday.

"He was perfect," said Mick's handler, Bill McFadden. "I asked him to do it one more time for me, and he did it."

The 61/2-year-old terrier, officially named Ch. Torums Scarf Michael, will try Tuesday night to become top dog at America's biggest and most prestigious show.

A win would give Mick a kind of Triple Crown in the dog world. He's already won at the world's most famous show, Crufts in England, and the huge AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship in Orlando, Fla., in December.

His biggest competition could come from Dallas, a German shepherd that's already won 103 best in show titles around the country.

Mick won the terrier group Monday night at the 127th Westminster Kennel Club show. Josh, a personable Newfoundland who turned around to soak in the crowd's cheers and watch himself on the big screen video board, won the working group.

A Pekingese called Les, who has won 59 best in show titles around the country, took the toy group. A standard poodle who loves to play with co-owner Karen Lefrak's socks won the nonsporting group.

The herding group, which could include Dallas, and the sporting and hound groups go Tuesday.

While some of the 2,603 dogs competing smelled early success, many dog fanciers were checking out other scents.

Tamaia Lynch cleared out the other customers, making her way right up to the fragrance counter.

"I know what I want," she said.

Without hesitating, she picked up a cologne bottle, the one scented with Lilies of the Valley and selling for $40. She breathed in the aroma, sure that it was the perfect perfume - for her dog.

Even the Italian greyhounds, kuvaszoks and the samoyeds that don't win a ribbon might walk away with a treat or two. Maybe a Gooberlicious dog chew - made with real peanut butter! - or a Giggle Wiggle rubber toy or perhaps Vision Aid, a supplement to improve their eyesight.

Lynch's three dogs could look forward to La Pooch II, one of the five fragrances that Michel Raviol was selling in the backstage benching area at the Garden. There's also the special holiday scent he breaks out just for Christmas, made in the south of France and costing $250 for 3.4 ounces. Pooch du Noel is available in finer stores, such as Bloomingdale's and Harrods.

"People think we're whacked," he said. "But they buy it."

Lynch did. She works for a veterinarian in Washington, D.C., and they use the perfumes for the pooches at their office.

"I mean, it smells good enough for a human," she said. "No, I haven't tried that yet. But, yeah, I've been tempted."

About 10 million people were expected to watch the two-day event on the USA Network. Absent, however, from this year's lineup was Joe Garagiola after an entertaining nine-year run on the Westminster telecasts.

"They told me they decided to go in a different direction," he said. "They own the candy store, I only work in it."

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Mick is back and looking for prize that eludes him

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