Great honor for Orca: The four-year-old bitch from Croatia won the main prize at what she claims to be the world's largest dog show, Crufts. The animal, which according to dog handler Javier Gonzalez Mendikote "never stops wagging its tail", prevailed against 19,000 other dogs in Birmingham, England, on Sunday evening and was awarded the king's category "Best in Show".
This is the first time a Lagotto Romagnolo has won the prestigious competition. The dog breed is considered "lively and affectionate" according to the Kennel Club, the governing body of British dog breeders' associations. Originally, the dogs in Italy were trained to search for truffles because of their strong sense of smell.
Supervisor: "Worked for it for the past 20 years"
Supervisor Gonzalez Mendikote was enthusiastic. "I've worked to achieve something like this for the past 20 years," said the handler, who has won several competitions. The win is significant for the dog breed, which is growing in popularity in the UK and US, said Ante Lucin, one of orca's owners. "We knew she was a little superstar, but this is beyond all expectations."
The show is named after its founder Charles Cruft, who organized the first competition under this name in London in 1891 - at that time still "Cruft's Greatest Dog Show". Crufts is an institution in the UK. However, animal rights activists criticize that an overbreeding of dogs is being celebrated there.