When a ten-year-old Sussex Spaniel named Stump won the coveted Best in Show award at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the public was truly stumped: Who would've ever guessed that a decade-old dog would win top-dog honors. And who, except for aficionados, ever heard of a Sussex Spaniel? It appears that Stump has lived up to one of the definitions of his name: to render completely at a loss, to perplex, to baffle.
An inspiring story
The champion we know as Stump (known officially in dog-show circles as Ch Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee) was born on December 1, 1998. Most dogs born around that time are living the life of a senior: they are less active these days and hardly the type of dog you would expect to see in the spotlight. But Stump is no ordinary dog. He is a champion—a dog that exemplifies the best of the best. And he is a fighter: Stump was stricken with a near-fatal bacterial infection in 2004. He not only pulled through, he went all the way to the very top.
Being the oldest dog to ever win Best in Show in the 133-year history of the world's most prestigious dog show is only one of Stump's honors. He is also the very first Sussex Spaniel to achieve this rank. Thanks to his success, many people are now eager to discover more about the breed.
The Sussex Spaniel
Though small in size, the Sussex is one of the most dignified of spaniels. He has a serious but soft and contented expression. He moves slowly and deliberately, with a gentle rolling gait, his head held low. Like all spaniels, he enjoys the close companionship of his family. He loves them dearly, and is especially fond of children.
The Sussex Spaniel was among the first 10 breeds to be recognized and admitted to the Stud Book when the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884, but it has existed as a distinct breed for much longer. As its name implies, it derives its origin from the county of Sussex, England, and it was used there since the 18th century as a field dog.
Although it has never gained great popularity in numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs. These dogs are loving and devoted companions, especially for families with children. And, as Stump has demonstrated, when given an opportunity to shine, they can be seen as the beautiful, dignified, and award-worthy dogs they are.