At New York's Madison Square Garden 10,000 tense spectators watched in hushed attention as a tuxedoed judge prepared to make the most important dog-show decision of the year. The occasion was the 83rd Westminster Kennel Club show, and the judge, Thomas Carruthers III of Glendale, Ohio, stood thoughtfully before the canine celebrities pictured on these pages. In the two-day event these dogs had beaten more than 2,500 of America's best to share the most glamorous spotlight in the dog-show world.
For oldtimers at Westminster, they represented perhaps the most surprising group of finalists in recent years. Representing the hound group for the first time in the history of the show was a Norwegian elkhound, who won his group over Westminster's 1957 best-in-show, the Afghan Shirkhan of Grandeur. An unfamiliar Irish water spaniel took the sporting dog award from such classic contenders as the setters and pointers. An 18-month-old Welsh terrier, appearing in her third show, won the terrier group. In the working group, a great Dane, originally bought for $150 as a house pet, came through to victory. The toy winner, on the other hand, was a Pekingese who has won more best-in-shows than any other living dog.
It was not unusual to see a poodle in the winner's circle, but the black miniature at left was unusual. Before she entered the ring, her handler announced that this would be Ch. Fontclair Festoon's last competition anywhere. There was a stillness in the Garden as Judge Carruthers made his decision. With a gesture of his hand, he awarded Festoon her last and handsomest victory. Because Festoon is an import (England), the best American-bred in show awaited selection. On bowed bulldog legs, Festoon's group runner-up waddled into the ring and calmly took the prize from the other Americans already there.
Best-In-Show at the Westminster was a miniature poodle, Ch. Fontclair Festoon.
February 23, 1959
Top Terrier, Strathglass Trim Maid, a Welsh, is examined by show judge (left).
Working winner, 172-pound great Dane Ch. Honey Hollow Stormi Rudio, was favorite of the audience.
Proud Pekingese, Ch. Chik-T-Sun of Caversham, was best toy and small but formidable competition during finals.
Best American-Bred was Ch. Vardona Frosty Snowman, an all-white bulldog.
Sporting spaniel, Ch. Kalibank's Water Gate Wandrer, was second Irish water spaniel ever to bid for Garden prize.
Norwegian Elkhound, Ch. Tortasen's Bjonn II, was best hound.