Dog drama at Westminster: Schipperke ruled out for top prize

  • Colton the Schipperke poses with his handler Christa Cook backstage at Madison Square Garden during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. A day after winning the nonsporting group and a place in the final ring of seven, Colton was ruled ineligible for best in show. (AP Photo/Nat Castaneda)

NEW YORK — Dog drama at Westminster: The schipperke got skipped.

A day after earning a coveted spot in the final ring of seven at the Westminster Kennel Club, Colton the schipperke was ruled ineligible for best in show Tuesday night.

There was a conflict of interest — top judge Peter Green’s longtime partner has co-owned dogs with one of Colton’s co-owners, including 2013 Westminster champion Banana Joe the affenpinscher.

Spirited and compact, Colton was going to be allowed to walk on to the green carpet at Madison Square Garden when the finalists are announced. Judge Peter Green was then to excuse Colton from the ring, leaving only six contenders for the big prize.

“This doesn’t negate all he’s done here,” handler Christa Cook said as she brushed Colton’s colt backstage at the Garden. “It’s been a great experience, his accomplishment is in the book forever.”

Never before at Westminster had a schipperke taken the highly competitive nonsporting group, which includes poodles and bichon frises.

“A schipperke may never, never win this group again,” Cook said. “And we did it.”

Cook said Colton’s team was told earlier in the day that he was ineligible.

“These types of things happen at dog shows and the rules are such to maintain the integrity of the sport,” the American Kennel Club said in a statement.

Two dogs were excused from the ring in the sporting group competition hours later. The clumber spaniel and Welsh springer spaniel were eliminated because the judge was a breeder of both dogs.

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