Open Mike: Frisco woman talks time as Westminster judge

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by MIKE CASTELLUCCI

WFAA

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 6:33 PM

I walked up to her door and knocked.

North Frisco, Texas; quite a long way from a jam-packed Madison Square Garden in New York City.

But that’s where Betty Regina Leininger had tens of thousands of eyes on her and millions more on television.

“I’m sensitive, your not going to judge me are you? Or do you just do that to four-legged ones?” News 8's Mike Castellucci asked.

Leininger hand picked the top dog in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Yes, the Best-In-Show judge lives in Texas with her one pooch.

“You would never judge him, right?” Mike asked.

“No, he’s over the standard, he’s too big and he’d be disqualified,” she said with a laugh.

We dropped by Betty's place just after the mailman dropped off a daily stack of magazines.

“This is 'The Orient Express' -- that’s just about Pekingese," she explained. "I get the Canadian ones as well sometimes."

Betty has been judging dogs shows around the world for 31 years, but it was her job in New York to pick best in show without being swayed by the sold-out crowd that seemed to favor a bloodhound.

“The bloodhound -- this huge cheer went up for him," she said. "No, I couldn’t be swayed. My reputation is on the line.”

For Betty, it was a magical evening.

It was more than being the best-in-show judge at the most famous dog show in the world. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that she can cherish with her best friend from now on in Texas.

E-mail mcastellucci@wfaa.com

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