The Latest: A great Dane’s long-awaited day at Westminster

When Sabrina Giardina was asked a few years ago to raise and show a great Dane puppy, the experienced Dane owner didn’t equivocate

The Latest on the Westminster Kennel Club dog show (all times local):

5 p.m.

When Sabrina Giardina was asked a few years ago to raise and show a great Dane puppy, the experienced Dane owner didn’t equivocate.

“No. I will not do that. I don’t know how to do that,” she said.

But about three years later, Giardina was cheering on her dog Margot Tuesday at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

It was the culmination of an unexpected, nearly three-year detour into the dog show world for Giardina, husband Michael and their family. The Giardinas agreed to take on and show puppy Margot after her intended owner fell ill, and the dog’s breeder helped them learn what they needed to do.

After all the training, baths, conditioning (including nightly treadmill sessions for Margot in the weeks before Westminster) and showing up to shows in all weather, Margot is a champion and retiring after her turn Tuesday in the great Dane ring at Westminster.

“It’s bittersweet for us … It was a nice journey, but it’s a lot of work,” Sabrina Giardina said. But for Margot, “it’s a celebration now — she’s a pet.”

She’ll celebrate with a special treat. The family planned to get her a cannoli from New York’s Little Italy neighborhood on the way home to suburban Oyster Bay.


2:30 p.m.

Snakebit no more!

Titus the bullmastiff has won best of breed at the Westminster dog show, and will advance to the working group stage at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

That capped a remarkable comeback for 3-year-old Titus, who was in danger of losing his back left leg last March. That’s when something got a piece of gentle Titus in the North Carolina brush — co-owner Cassandra Carpenter thought it was a pygmy rattlesnake, veterinarian Jess Hunter said it could’ve been a copperhead.

Titus’ leg turned red, purple and black and swelled nearly twice its size. But he’s recovered, and topped 16 entries in the breed round.

Titus still has a large, dark scar and Carpenter said judges occasionally ask about it. After this showing, she’ll certainly has quite a story to tell.

“This is my first breed win,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

2 p.m.

While purebred dogs round the rings at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, animal-rights activists are also trying to make an impression.

A small group protested Tuesday outside the building where dogs from great Danes to cocker spaniels vied to be named best in their breeds and advance to the competition’s next round.

The protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations that the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has organized at the show over the years.

The demonstrators say it’s callous to breed, buy or sell dogs when shelters are full of canines up for adoption.

“Anyone who visits your local shelter and faces the dogs who are desperately needing homes would understand why PETA is here every year,” said associate director Ashley Byrne.

The protesters also say purebred aficionados are too focused on dogs’ appearance, rather than their health. They point, for example, to breathing difficulties that can beset flat-faced breeds.

An inquiry was sent to a Westminster spokeswoman about the protest.

The American Kennel Club, a governing body for dog shows including Westminster, has said responsible breeders prioritize dogs’ health. The club defends dog breeding as a way to preserve dogs developed for certain functions and traits and to help people find the right dog for them.

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