NEW YORK — A Raleigh dog will compete for the coveted best in show award at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday night.
The 4-year-old puli named Cordmaker Field of Dreams, won the herding group category and best in breed on Monday at the annual event held at Madison Square Garden.
The dog, also known as Conrad, is owned by Susan Huebner and Jackie Beaudoin, of Raleigh.
Pulis are known for their dreadlocks, but handler Linda Pitts of Knoxville, Tenn., said the hairstyle does not occur naturally.
Pitts said the dogs needed to be groomed as puppies to train the hair in that pattern, lest it become too scraggly.
"It's a beauty contest," she said.
Pitts said Conrad gets a bath every other week and won't get washed before Tuesday night's best in show final.
"It'd take too long for him to dry," she said. Pitts added Conrad's hair will be tied up like "a Christmas tree" so it won't collect dust and debris on the street.
Another dog with Triangle connections, K' Instant Success Moravia Campanella, a briard from Chapel Hill, won best in breed in its category last night.
There are 170 breeds and varieties at this 133rd edition of Westminster.
Also on Monday night, a 7-year-old Scottish deerhound named Tiger Woods – his owner is a huge golfer – won the hound group, then a Scottish terrier took the terrier group.
"Maybe I ought to have a Scotch," said Gabriel Rangel, the terrier's handler.
Rangel came with his own good-luck charm. He led Sadie around the ring with the same leash that guided a Scottish terrier called Bingo to the 1967 best in show prize at Madison Square Garden.
"Worked pretty well, didn't it?" owner Amelia Musser said. "I think we'll keep using it."
A standard poodle called Yes was best among the nonsporting dogs. The best sporting, toy and working dogs will be chosen Tuesday night, ahead of judge Sari Tietjen's pointing to her choice for America's top dog.
From the no-show Borzois to the empty seats, it was abundantly clear the nation's recession took a toll on the annual event.
"We understand it," said Westminster spokesman David Frei, TV host of the USA Network coverage. "For most people, dog shows are a hobby. When money gets tight, people spend it on food and schools and things they absolutely need."
Last February, the Garden was packed with more than 15,000 roaring fans when a precocious beagle called Uno was picked as best in show. Uno was back Monday night for a victory tour, but the Garden was only two-thirds full to see him.
"It's very noticeable," French bulldog handler Monica Schott said. "I was hoping to see that a lot of people would spend their money to come here, to give them some outlet from what's going on with the economy. I guess not."
Famed heiress Patty Hearst was among those on hand. She won a prize last year with her French bulldog, but was shut out this visit.
Like their owners, dog took different routes to the green carpet. Take champion Excelsior Yosef Areli, a 4-year-old Saluki. Sire 'Sno Foolin' has been gone for 20 years, but thanks to modern science, he was able to extend his champion breeding lineage.
"It's been perfected over the years and now it's just about foolproof," said Harry Bennett, who handled this winning dog. "It's a good way to go."
On the day Tiger Woods and his wife announced the birth of a son, the golfing great's name again made news in the sporting world. The Scottish deerhound owner Gayle Bontecou had good reason to pick it.
"I'm a huge golfer," she said.
There was an hourlong protest outside the Garden by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, with two members dressed up as Ku Klux Klan members. PETA claims the American Kennel Club's promotion of purebred dogs is harmful to their health.
Said Frei: "We want to produce the next generation of healthy and happy dogs, not just for the show ring but for the couches at home."