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Westminster dog show winner is German shorthaired pointer, C.J.

A German Shorthaired Pointer named CJ leaves the

A German Shorthaired Pointer named CJ leaves the ring after winning Sporting Group at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. CJ went on to win Best in Show. Credit: Craig Ruttle

A German shorthaired pointer whose owner called him an “old soul” won best in show Tuesday night in Manhattan at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

C.J., a 3-year-old male, topped strong competitors that included Lucy, a Borzoi hound that was named the reserve best in show and garnered Japan’s top dog award last year, and Charlie, a Skye terrier from Oyster Bay Cove, who was named reserve best in show last year at Westminster.

“He was born an old soul,” Valerie Atkinson of California, his owner and breeder, told a crowd of reporters after accepting the award. “He’s never done anything wrong.”

The dog — also known as Vjk-Myst Garbonita’s California Journey — was described by the judge as an “outstanding example of the breed and an outstanding example in the ring.”

C.J., his brown head in stark contrast to his brown-spotted torso, was cool and calm in front of reporters, seemingly unaware that he had nabbed the biggest bone in the dog competition world.

Atkinson said C.J. knows what to do in competitions and that training was basically a matter of reinforcing what he knows. At home, he hangs out with his best friend, a whippet, she said: “They rip around the property.”

Atkinson called the victory “surreal” and accepting the award in the ring, she told the television commentator, “We’re going to have a good time.”

Also competing in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night for best in show were the six other group winners: Panda the Shih tzu, toy group; Annabelle the bulldog, nonsporting group; Rumor the German shepherd, herding group; Bogey the Samoyed, working group; and Charlie the Skye terrier, owned by Victor Malzoni Jr. and Nancy Shaw and Cragsmoor Kennels.

Earlier, Back Bay’s Max A’Million — known on Instagram as @westiethebestie — already was a winner before stepping into the Westminster Kennel Club’s best-of-breed ring, one of his owners said Tuesday morning at Pier 92 in Manhattan, where some competitions were held.

Chiropractor Carole Schuster of Locust Valley, a former Yorkie owner, said of the West Highland white terrier: “He’s my first Westie. This is my first time at the [Westminster] show and he’s like my first love.”

One of more than two dozen Long Island dogs registered for the confirmation judging, Max also was among the 3,000 or so canines taking part in dog show events. That includes mixed breeds who have participated in the agility and obedience competitions, in this, Westminster’s 140th year.

The pier was teeming with creatures that were hard to believe come under the umbrella of canine — ranging from small, pickup-able fluffs to those that are supersized, bringing to mind the notion of sleek, black-and-white ponies. In all, 199 breeds and varieties, including this year’s seven new breeds, took part.

As for Max, around 1 1⁄2 years old, being a champion show dog is just part of his world, Schuster, 58, a semiretired chiropractor, said. He’s also in training to become a therapy dog and has already been paying visits to a Long Island residence for children with cerebral palsy.

“You’re already a winner if you’ve done one good thing,” she said.

To shouts of “here come the Westies,” from a few children in the area, Max entered Ring 2 like a boss, tail erect, dark eyes alert and peering out from his face of snow white fur.

Though he did not get to experience the best-of-breed victory lap or photo op, he’s already somewhat of an Internet celebrity, with his more than 12,000 Instagram followers from around the world, Schuster said.

Westminster has been making its own increasing forays into social media, this year adding real-time Periscope videos, with Instagram itself set to curate images from Tuesday night’s activities, said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications.

The idea, she said, is to connect with “new faces, new people,” as well as to grow alongside the club’s more digitally savvy canine-owners. Social media also allows for telling more of the dogs’ personal stories, she said, like those of Max and others who do therapy service.

Though not to be one of the best-in-show contenders, Max is not hurting for love, Schuster said.

He’s gotten virtual good luck wishes from around the world: Australia, Europe, the United States, with a couple of Westies from Laguna Beach [California] — would-be girlfriends — even sending him a snail mail card.

Said Schuster, “How sweet is that?”

With Ellen Yan

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