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Doggy Do? Doggy Did

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It happens.

That’s what Alice Manning has been telling herself since her 3-year-old champion German shorthair pointer, Becky, left an ill-timed deposit smack in the middle of judging at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show in New York.

On national television, no less.

“I was shocked at first,” Manning said of Becky’s lapse of canine control at last month’s Madison Square Garden show--the first such public display of dogness in Westminster’s 123-year history.

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“After a while I started to laugh about it,” said Manning, manager of contracts for Orange County’s Health Care Agency. “I guess she made history.”

Becky’s moment was chronicled by television cameras, ending up as punch-line fodder for late-night talk-show hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. Film clips were shown on TV stations around the world. Her photo accompanied a blurb on the pooch pile in Newsweek.

Most of Manning’s friends and co-workers had been watching parts of the two-day show hoping for a glimpse of Becky, the 1998 U.S. champion for German shorthair pointers. The dog became an instant crowd favorite, but the publicity left Manning a bit distressed, especially after Newsweek labeled Becky accident-prone.

“It’s never happened before,” Manning said. “I couldn’t believe they kept the camera on it the whole time.”

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The dog’s handler, Valerie Nunes-Ewing, said she spoke to an ecstatic Manning earlier in the day after Becky had won best of breed at Westminster and moved on to the group judging. At the end of the conversation, Manning threw in a warning to make sure Becky completed her dog business before entering the ring.

“When I talked to her later, I kidded her that she’d jinxed it,” Nunes-Ewing said.

Becky, whose registration name is Champion Imagine-ation Runs Wild, is a “very level-headed dog” who has been winning shows since she was 6 months old, her owner said. She’ll compete in the U.S. national competition for her breed in May and then retire to motherhood.

“I thought she did quite well,” Manning said, “considering. . . .”

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