Star canine handler harm in wreck en path to Westminster present


TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — The highway to this yr’s Westminster Kennel Membership canine present handed by a pandemic and a serious change of date and venue. For one of many nation’s greatest recognized canine handlers, the highway additionally proved harmful.

Invoice McFadden, who has guided two Westminster winners, was rear-ended and injured whereas driving a van stuffed with canine cross-country to the present, his spouse and fellow star handler, Taffe McFadden, stated Saturday. He was hospitalized for a time after the crash Tuesday in Wyoming and is now recuperating at dwelling in Acampo, California, she stated. He will probably be off the present path for some time.

Regardless of the shock and fear, “I am actually glad to be right here. I want my husband was with me,” Taffe McFadden stated as she and the couple’s assistants readied their canine prices. “It is a extremely coveted canine present to be at, and for them to work this tough to make it occur is fairly superior.”

The Westminster present moved from New York Metropolis to a suburban property, and from February to June, so it could possibly be held outside as a pandemic precaution; organizers additionally closed the present to the general public. Judging started Saturday towards one of the best in present prize, which will probably be awarded Sunday night time.

4 of the seven finalists get chosen Saturday night time. Semifinalists embody Bono, a Havanese that made the finals final yr and is dealt with by Taffe McFadden.

The McFaddens are one of many sport’s energy {couples}. Invoice McFadden dealt with a bichon frise named Flynn to greatest in present at Westminster in 2018 and took Mick the Kerry blue terrier to the title in 2003. His spouse stated he was checking in always Saturday on the goings-on on the first Westminster he has missed in years.

She stated a truck plowed into Invoice McFadden’s van whereas it was stopped in a highway development zone in Laramie, Wyoming. Messages have been left Saturday with native regulation enforcement companies concerning the crash.

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The 10 canine aboard weren’t injured, his spouse stated, however a veterinary chiropractor was working with them Saturday in case of any aches.

This yr marks the primary time the 145-year-old present is exterior Manhattan. A part of the competitors is often in exhibition buildings on Hudson River piers, and the remaining in Madison Sq. Backyard.

Many house owners and handlers say they and their canine relish the recent air and respiration room of the sprawling Lyndhurst property in Tarrytown, New York. Nonetheless, the outside setting got here with some challenges, together with not having an influence and water provide for grooming.

Some contributors introduced their very own — the McFadden workforce, for example, was arrange in a parking zone with 5 mills, six 6-gallon jugs of water, a tent and small fenced pens for the canine to bide time outside.

Others needed to be a bit extra catch-as-catch-can. Janet Atkins and Charles Namey bathed and blow-dried their bearded collie, Moet, at an area pet retailer Friday, then brushed her and did different remaining touches Saturday on a desk exterior their minivan, with plastic sheeting for a cover.

“You make do with what you may,” stated Atkins, of Winter Park, Florida.

After flying in from Toronto on Friday night, Irina Falk was up till 2 a.m. Saturday bathing and drying her Yorkshire terriers Tim Tim and Kenzo, then received up three hours later to get to the present, repair their topknots and attempt to hold their silky, flowing coats recent on a moist morning on the Lyndhurst garden.

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“I had grass on the comb, on the coat, in my costume,” she stated with a smile.

4 breeds are making their Westminster debut this weekend, together with the Belgian Laekenois. “Congratulations — you made historical past at the moment,” choose Sharon Ann Redmer advised some half-dozen Laekenois and their human companions. The herding canine are commonly known as hard-working and pushed, however Saffron can also be “the happiest canine on earth,” says handler Trina Matteson of Silver Springs, Florida.

Jack Jack the French bulldog may not have made historical past. However being at Westminster is “a bucket-list merchandise” for proprietor Kami Harris. She by no means pictured getting concerned in canine reveals till she received the canine as a pet, and his breeder prompt displaying him.

“Ever since COVID hit, I noticed how a lot I cherished it and missed it,” says Harris, of Oregon Metropolis, Oregon. “The friendships that you simply make, and the individuals you meet — it is a group.”

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