BR-owned Corgi advances to final at Westminster Dog Show in New York

“Westminster is the show to be seen at. ... Just getting to the big dance is an honor and a privilege. Dina Manship Planche, of Baton Rouge, owner of Coco

Dina Manship Planche was optimistic about the chances of her Cardigan Welsh corgi Monday night at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden in New York, but it was a cautious optimism.

“I think my dog is overlooked a lot at shows,” Planche said.

Well her dog is not overlooked any more.

Coco, the 5-year-old corgi, won the herding group late Monday to punch her ticket into the Best in Show competition Tuesday night.

Other dogs in the toy, hound and non-sporting groups won their groups Monday, securing their places with Coco in the final, while awaiting three other dogs in the sporting, working and terrier groups.

Those three will be chosen Tuesday night before the seven-dog Best in Show competition to crown the overall winner.

“I’ve got tears rolling down my face,” said Planche,58, of Baton Rouge. “That’s a first in Westminster. None of my dogs ever placed in group and the first one wins.”

Before the event, Planche said she thought Coco had a good chance to win.

“She’s just got a great personality,” she said.

The win was bittersweet for Planche who has entered dogs into Westminster since 2007, but was unable to make the trip because she underwent back surgery Monday to fix a rupture disk.

Handler Lois DeMers deftly maneuvered Coco through the inspection and run around the arena.

“We did her proud,” DeMers said during the post-event interview.

Announcers mentioned it was the first time a Cardigan Welsh corgi had ever won its group before.

It was Coco’s second trip to Westminster.

Earlier Monday, Coco bested her peers in her breed, collecting the best in breed award before moving on to the group stage of the competition.

She has won several Best in Show awards at competitions across the South and has even competed against some of the dogs she met in the group stage in her group, the herding group.

Making it to New York is an achievement her primary owner, Planche, is proud of.

“Westminster is the show to be seen at,” she said Monday afternoon before the event. “It’s at the beginning of the show year… so it’s always a good way to begin the year off.

“Just getting to the big dance is an honor and a privilege.”

Planche is a member of the Manship family and she was one of the owners of The Advocate newspaper until it was sold to John Georges in May.

Planche said there were 26 corgis, including Coco, registered to compete in the breed competition, but she was not sure how many actually showed up.

Planche is the primary owner of Coco, and Deb Shindle, Coco’s breeder, and Julie and Bill Divens are co-owners. Coco’s registered name is BIS GCH Riverside Telltail Coco Posh.

BIS GCH means “Best in Show, Grand Champion,” Riverside and Telltail were the kennels where her parents were from and Posh is an ode to the Spice Girls.

Coco’s father, Dickens, was also a show dog, and Planche said he won several Best in Show competitions before retirement.

Coco lives in Conroe, Texas, with DeMers and other show dogs.

In her spare time, Planche said Coco “can sleep with the best of them” and likes to run around with her friends.

She also has a fondness for Frisbee.

“She loves to play Frisbee, but she will only play with one type, it’s called a flippy flopper,” she said. “She’s just manic over that. You can’t believe how much she loves that.”

Before competitions, Coco receives massages and chiropractic sessions to alleviate the pressure on her long back, Planche said.

“It’s kind of a full-time hobby,” Planche said of showing dogs in competitions. “My husband would call it full-time crazy.”

Planche leapt into competitions late in 2006 after researching dogs for several years while trying to find one to buy.

She showed off horses in competitions in her youth and still had the itch for competition. Now she has several dogs that she enters in various competitions. Planche has entered dogs in Westminster since 2007.

Besides Coco, Planche said she had four other dogs in three different breeds also competing at Westminster this year.

The other dogs are two havanese dogs named Peter and Fiyero, a Tibetan terrier named Clue after the board game and a treeing walker coonhound named Mae West after the legendary actress.

Clue won Select Dog, or second place, in his breed and Mae West won Best of Opposite Sex, meaning she was the best female in her group that was won by a male dog.

Editor’s Note: The last name of co-owner Deb Shindle was corrected on Feb. 11, 2014.