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Local dog wins best in breed at Westminster dog show

A dog from North Stonington took home the title of best in her breed during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday.

Big Dog Bordeaux's Grace O'Malley the Pirate Queen, a Dogue de Bordeaux, earned the top spot while competing against 10 other dogs in her breed.

Nicknamed "Pirate," the dog was bred and raised in North Stonington by her owners and handlers, Billy and Amanda Vine, who brought Pirate and her brother, Big Dog Bordeaux's Debonnaire's Shadow, to the elite show over the weekend.

The couple run a kennel on a spacious property in North Stonington, where they breed and board Dogue de Bordeaux dogs. They said they were overjoyed with the win.

"We're just absolutely tickled, it's a really big deal for a kennel like ours — where we handle our own dogs — to bring a dog that we bred and own, and win best in breed," Billy Vine said. "This is a pretty rare win."

Pirate is just under 2 years old and weighs about 140 pounds. Amanda Vine, her handler, described her as active and loving attention as long as it's on her own terms. This was Pirate's first time competing in Westminster, which was held this year at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, N.Y. — rather than its usual home of Madison Square Garden — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amanda Vine was Pirate's handler at the show. "I was just so proud of Pirate for doing what I asked her to do in the ring, she just did an amazing job and made my job really easy," she said. "We still can't even believe it."

Pirate and her brother, nicknamed Shadow, both competed in the working dogs category. The couple said they have gotten messages of support and congratulations from people all over the world who watched the show.

"Taking best of breed at Westminster is kind of the pinnacle of what kennels like us strive for," Billy Vine said.

"It's the best of the best," Amanda Vine added.

The Vines have 18 Dogue de Bordeaux dogs at their kennel and focus on breeding dogs that are as healthy as can be — they bred Pirate and Shadow using a sample from a dog from Kentucky who has been dead for more than a decade. Their goal is to help create a pure, healthy bloodline for the breed in the Northeast.

t.hartz@theday.com

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