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Ford City's Kato wins Best of Breed at Westminster show

Kato, a 4-year-old male Vizsla from Ford City with historic bloodlines, became a third-generation Best of Breed winner on Tuesday at the Westminster Kennel Dog Show in New York City.

"It's exciting. A huge thrill, as a dog breeder, to have that kind of success," said Corinne Miklos, who is Kato's owner, breeder and handler. "We're happy he can carry on the tradition of his family."

Kato topped 28 other dogs to win Best of Breed on the final day of competition, but was among the 29 dogs that fell short in the Sporting Group judging that preceded the Best in Show last night.

Known in dog show circles as Grand Championship Artisan Grouse Point Pink Panther JH, Kato was the top-ranked Vizsla in the country for a string of wins in recent months. He comes from a family of Westminster royalty. His mother, Ruby, won Best of Breed at Westminster in 2005, and grandmother, Eve, captured the honor in 2000 and 2001.

Kato, born on March 7, 2008, splits his time between Miklos' home in Ford City and the Murrysville home of co-owner Sue Lonabaugh. Two other women, Joan Toepke of Bedford Hills, N.Y., and Robin Bernstein of Point Breeze own stakes in Kato.

For the past 35 years, Miklos has been breeding Vizslas, often called the "Pride of Hungary." The dogs are known for their ability to point and hunt game birds and for being bold in the field.

"The Hungarian Vizsla represents one of the best in sporting dogs and loyal companions," according to the Westminster Kennel Club's website.

"Ancestors of the present Vizslas were the trusted and favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar tribes of the 8th century. The Vizsla is a medium-sized short-coated dog of distinguished appearance, golden rust in color," the club says.

"This is a dog of power and drive in the field yet a tractable and affectionate companion at home. The Vizsla is a natural hunter endowed with a good nose and trainability. He is lively, gentle-mannered, demonstrably affectionate and sensitive though fearless with a well developed protective instinct."

About 2,100 dogs representing 185 breeds vied for Best in Show honors in the classic dog show. Most years, the event draws 2,500 dogs, but restrictions at Madison Square Garden required event organizers to scale down this year's competition.

They added six new breeds: American coon hound, Cesky terrier, Entlebucher mountain dog, Norwegian Lundehund, Finnish Lapphund and Standard Xoloitzcuintli.

Begun in 1877, the Westminster is America's second-longest continuously held sporting event, behind the Kentucky Derby.

Terriers, including fox, wire-haired or Scottish, have dominated the competition, recording 45 Westminster wins. By comparison, hounds have won four times.

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