, the six-year-old amber-eyed , from Salisbury Township, won an Award of Merit, one of only five awards given among the 29 dogs in her breed she was competing against this afternoon at the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
"I'm excited because there were some great Chesapeakes in there, including the No. 1 Chesapeake in the country," her owner Cynthia Meyer told Patch immediately after the judging.
Meyer, who was watching in the audience with friends, said she ran down into the ring and gave Rita a big hug. The dog jumped up on her, she said, and seemed to know she won, or at least, that something good had just happened.
"It's funny, but they know when they're picked. Their handler goes running up to the front. Rita's been doing this for three-and-a-half years and they know if they're left standing in one spot, it's not good," Meyer said.
Rita won Best of Opposite Sex and second in her breed last year at Westminster. In December, Rita won Best of Breed at the prestigious AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, Calif.
What's next for Rita?
"She's retired. This is it today. This is the end. I'm going to breed her and try to have some puppies," Meyer said.
And the suitors are already lining up.
the two-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever that was Salisbury Township's other Westminster entrant, didn't fare as well at the prestigious show, but she got a "very handsome run around the ring," owner Rod Beckstead said Tuesday.
Solo lost to a dog named Mini Cooper, of whom Beckstead said, "I never, ever get upset when I lose to him. This is a fun little dog. He's about three months older than Solo. When they were coming up, sometimes I beat him, sometime he beat us. Lately though, he's just beating everything in sight and deservedly so."
Despite the noise and excitement in Madison Square Garden, Beckstead said Solo would be just as happy to "to get back to his crate and eat a hotdog."