- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — The owner had just the right touch, trying to soothe her French bulldog’s trembling paws.

“There, there,” Patty Hearst said.

Far removed from the days when her image as a machine-gun-toting revolutionary with the Symbionese Liberation Army captivated a nation, Patricia Hearst Shaw was in more genteel surroundings yesterday. She was tending to Diva at Madison Square Garden, petting her soft head on dogdom’s biggest day.

Surrounded by Cardigan Welsh corgis, Chinese Shar-Peis and Parson Russell terriers, she blended right in at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

“When people find out it’s me, it’s like it doesn’t make sense,” said Mrs. Shaw, 53. “The Frenchie people know me because I’ve been around. But others, they seemed surprised.”

That basically summed up Mitzie McGavic’s reaction. In town from Florida to root for her friend’s Australian shepherd, she was startled to learn who was standing a few feet away.

“You’re kidding. Is she the Patty Hearst?” she asked. “Showing dogs at Westminster, who knew?”

Mrs. Shaw has been working with dogs for three years, and her first trip to Westminster was well worth it. Her prize, with a champion’s name of Shann’s Legally Blonde, earned a red ribbon as Best of Opposite Sex — a male dog won the breed, and hers was judged the top female.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said.

Diva is not up for the best in show award, but one dog who is quickly became a crowd favorite yesterday. Uno barked at his handler, bayed at the crowd, tried to grab his leash and took a flying leap at a piece of filet mignon. Oh, and he gnawed away at a newly printed sign.

Now that’s one great beagle.

His white-tipped tail in perpetual motion, 2-year-old Uno turned the green carpet of Madison Square Garden into his own personal back yard. Last night, he became the first beagle to win the hound group at the Westminster show since 1939 — 69 years. Or 483 in dog years.

“Snoopy would be proud,” handler Aaron Wilkerson said earlier. “He was being his merry little hound self.”

While best in show will be presented tonight, the precocious package of personality certainly deserved one title: noisiest in show.

“Ah-rooo,” his howls echoed all over the arena. It didn’t take much to get Uno going, either. A click of a spectator’s pen, a wave of the judge’s hand, any effort by Mr. Wilkerson to hush him. “Ah-rooo!”

Westminster has presented best in show 100 times and no beagle has ever won. Uno’s victory assured him a place in the final seven tonight at America’s No. 1 dog event. Part of the problem is the breed’s engaging, friendly nature.

“Great show dogs often have an air about them. It’s like this is their world, and we’re just living in it,” Westminster TV host David Frei said. “But beagles want to be in our world.”

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