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Westminster royalty: A champion, teacher and lover of hounds, Patricia Trotter will rule Best in Show

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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – She is a royal who carries herself like a commoner, a Tom Brady who could be mistaken for a special teamer. Patricia Trotter will spend this weekend on the east bank of the Hudson River, at the epicenter of the second longest continuously running sports event in the nation, and wants the attention focused wholly on the event, and not her 85-year-old, record-smashing self.

“The Westminster Dog Show is the Super Bowl and the World Series (wrapped into) one,” Trotter told USA TODAY. “There are hundreds and hundreds of dog shows, but there is only one Westminster.”

The 145th edition of Westminster will begin Friday morning and conclude Sunday night, when Trotter, a longtime middle-school history teacher from Carmel, Calif., will be the judge of the Best In Show competition, the most prestigious judging gig in the dog-show realm. For the first time since its debut in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club’s showcase event will not be held in Madison Square Garden, moving 25 miles north to Lyndhurst, a historic riverside mansion in the village of Tarrytown – a venue change WKC officials made in order to hold the show outdoors. Big white tents now dot the verdant estate grounds, and so will more than, 2,500 canine competitors, including four new breeds. But there will be no fans, or vendors, or midtown Manhattan hubbub – not until the show returns to the Garden in 2022, pandemic willing.

“It is going to be weird,” Trotter said, with a chuckle.

Hound Group Judge Ms. Patricia Craige Trotter looks on during the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2019 in New York City.

Pat Trotter may be an octogenarian, but looks, talks and acts as if she is in her middle years. She recounts in great detail her decades as a football fan (she saw Johnny Unitas, Eddie LeBaron and Joe Montana in person and vividly recalls watching the Giants-Colts 1958 championship game with her father), and her teenage foray into journalism, writing high-school sports stories for a local newspaper in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where she grew up. For decades she was a passionate long-distance runner, and is now a long-distance walker, always with a four-legged companion.

She isn’t against sharing the secret of her youthfulness.

“I think having dogs in your life keeps you going as you age,” she said.

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