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The Year of the Geezer: The Triumph of Stump, the Sussex Spaniel

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Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Just take a look at the latest comeback kid, the pride of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, 10 year-old Stump, the Sussex spaniel.

Sassy and sleek, mighty geezer Stump essentially retired from show business four years ago, but still took home Best in Show on Tuesday at the 133rd Annual show at Madison Square Garden. As the oldest dog ever to win this honor, and even though traditionally, spaniels do nothing for me (although I would probably take a bullet for most terriers), I could not help but be overwhelmed with overweening joy.

Yes, Stump was almost eclipsed by the competition, by the other dogs competing in Best in Show, a standard poodle, a Scottish terrier, a puli, a Brussels griffon and a Scottish deerhound, but Stump proved to be no schlump.

"I didn't know who he was or how old he was," Judge Sari Brewster Tietjen exclaimed. "He's just everything that you'd want in the breed, and I couldn't say no to him."

Ebullient, brimming with canine charisma, even with little preparation for the event, according to his handler Scott Sommer, Stump proved to be an unstoppable force. Even when a giant schnauzer threatened to bump Stump, the crowd clamored wildly for the Sussex spaniel and nothing could sway them. Restored to good health after a mysterious illness several years ago, Stump in his dotage showed that (to juggle metaphors), like a fine wine, every dog has its day, and for Stump the late bloomer, his bloom was decidedly worth waiting for.

Now, to all of us out there today rattling cages for work, born before the name Smith Corona could be confused with some brand of Mexican beer, Stump provides encouragement and unbridled optimism, and I find myself wishing, just wishing, that Judge Tietjen would retire from her current job and instead, take over the HR department of some place, any place, where we'd like to be hired. And also deserve to be.

Meanwhile, "Stump's going to travel back to Houston and kind of stay there," Sommer, said.

Unlike another strutting Texan we know of, who recently shrank off there in bewildered but abject shame, Stump has earned his proud place in history, his moment in the sun.