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Black lab wins new obedience competition as 2016 Westminster Dog Show gets underway

By Doug G. Ware   |   Feb. 15, 2016 at 9:14 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The 140th edition of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show got underway in New York City Monday, and crowned a winner in the competition's newest category: Obedience.

The world's most prestigious dog show recognized a three and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Heart, on Monday as the new Westminster Masters Obedience champion.

"The perfect day for the perfect name," Heart's owner and trainer Linda Brennan said. "I'm so proud of my dog. She's just amazing. She loved the crowd, she loved the energy of it. I couldn't be happier with her. She's the dog of a lifetime."

"Obedience competition first became an AKC sport in the mid-1930s, but this marks Westminster's first venture into this popular canine activity," the Westminster Kennel Club said in a news release.

The competition was held at New York's famed Madison Square Garden Monday night, where the show's top prize, "Best in Show," will be named Tuesday night.

Nearly 3,000 dogs are competing in this year's show -- with the owners hoping theirs will be the Westminster Kennel Club's choice to represent their respective breeds and dog classifications.

Also new for 2016, seven new breeds will be allowed to compete. They are Bergamascos, Berger Picards, Boerbels, Cirneco dell'Etnas, Lagotto Romagnolos, Miniature American Shepherds, and Spanish Water Dogs.

Officials said a total of 199 different breeds and varieties are eligible for the 2016 show.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, with just 35 breeds, and has grown to become the premier canine competition in the world.

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