(WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW) A three-year-old male German shorthaired pointer named C.J. won best in show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the nation’s most prestigious dog competition, on Tuesday night.

The triumphant pup surpassed 2,751 competitors, including a number of favorites: a German shepherd, a bulldog, a shih tzu, and a Skye terrier who came in second place last year.

C.J., whose initials stand for “California Journey,” has been titled “best in show” an impressive 18 times in six months. Read on to learn more about C.J.’s journey to the top. — Global Animal

Handler Valerie Nunez Atkinson poses with CJ, a German shorthaired pointer from the Sporting Group, after they won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photo Credit: Brendan McDermid via Reuters
Handler Valerie Nunez Atkinson poses with CJ, a German shorthaired pointer from the Sporting Group, after they won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photo Credit: Brendan McDermid via Reuters

New York Times, Richard Sandomir

As each of the seven competitors for best in show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday approached Richard Meen, the judge, he told them, “Relax.” But you wonder if any one of the four-legged champions, let alone their handlers, could heed the advice, even if they were aware that his non-canine work is psychiatry.

Relaxation would seem to be the last thing on the mind of the last 14 dogs and humans standing after two days of competition.

Whatever anxiety existed dissipated quickly. Meen is not one of those judges who drags out his decision as if he were telling a mystery story. He eyed each of the dogs, held out both his hands to frame their expressions, had them take a last lap around the green-carpeted ring at Madison Square Garden and headed straight to the judge’s table to write down his decision:

He chose C. J., a 3-year-old male German shorthaired pointer.

C. J. appeared to have grasped Meen’s advice to relax. When he won, he was impassive, looking out at the crowd as if he might have anticipated the outcome. Or maybe his serious demeanor was another way to show his shock. His handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, was more emotional, kissing Meen and rival handlers, then dropping to her knees to hug and kiss C. J.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said afterward. “For us in the sport, this is the pinnacle. This is what we strive for, what we shed tears over. The best dogs come here. This is the show to win.”

Nunes-Atkinson said she was thrilled to have won the sporting group earlier in the night and was apparently aware that odds in Las Vegas were against C. J., whom she calls her “heart dog.”

She was not intimidated that other dogs were favored over hers.

“You couldn’t go wrong with any of them,” Nunes-Atkinson said. “But I believe in my dog 100 percent. He’s a great German shorthaired pointer.”

Earlier in the evening, after winning C. J.’s group, she said, “He loves it here. He was born this way. At 6 weeks, he walked across the living room floor and we said, ‘Oh, my.’ He has that sparkle that makes you stop and look at him.”

She added: “We expected great things from him from the start.”

Read the full New York Times article, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/17/sports/westminster-best-in-show-dog-cj-german-shorthaired-pointer.html?_r=0

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