It was flair and elegance vs. spunkiness and confidence. It was a white-collar worker competing alongside a blue-collar performer.
And when it was over, a striking 5-year-old white standard poodle, Champion Whisperwind on a Carousel, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Hartsock of Potomac, Md., edged Champion Kerrageen's Hotspur, a Kerry blue terrier owned by Brian Percy of Seattle and Judy Hartwick of Napa, Calif., for dogdom's biggest title, best-in-show at the Wesminster Kennel Club in New York City last night.
The poodle became the first of its breed to win the award since 1973 and the fourth ever. A Kerry blue has never taken the coveted honor in the 115-year history of the nation's No. 1 dog show.
Dorothy Welsh of Neilsville, Wisc., the judge, summed up her decision, ``The poodle is a marvelous dog. It has superb type and is the best representative I've ever seen of the breed.''
The Select Seven field was a real mix but Welsh said her close decision came down to Hotspur and Peter, the poodle's call name.
While it was a crushing blow to Hotspur's many Northwest fans, Dave Frei of Woodinville, USA Network color commentator for the show, said, ``Hotspur represented this area well. It had to be a very close margin.''
Although Welsh judges each animal on how close it matches the breed's perfection, when the dogs reach the Select Seven plateau, that extra edge often comes from charisma, animation and occasionally interaction with the handler.
This came down to a matchup of one of each breed's all-time top performers. Peter, with 92 best-in-show titles, is the all-time winning male standard poodle. Hotspur owns the Kerry blue record with 37.
Handled by Dennis McCoy of Apex, N.C., the poodle gaited splendidly and exhibited a superb type (the embodiment of the standard's essentials). Ditto Hotspur.
As he has from week to week, Bill McFadden of Campbell, Calif., Hotspur's handler, had the energetic dog at the top of its game.
While Welsh gave no hint of her decision during the judging, she said afterward Peter and Hotspur went to the head of her class early in the proceedings.
Other group winners determined yesterday, joining these two in the finals, were Champion Mallyree Triple Expectation, an Irish water spaniel owned by Gemma Carey of Amityville, N.Y., from the sporting group; Champion Fernhill's Phantom, a Scottish deerhound owned by Miranda Levin and Barbara Heidenreich of Sutton, Mass., hound group; and Champion Trebor AHS Capital Gains, a toy poodle owned by Gary Wittmeier, Los Angeles, toy group.
Kara Purcell of Central Point, Ore., showing one of Frei's Afghans, won the junior-showmanship award. She represented the United States last month in a 19-country competition in London and finished second.