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Superheroes, rock stars, good boys/girls rule at Westminster

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NEW YORK — Thor the bulldog got a superhero’s welcome at the Westminster Kennel Club show Monday. More of the same was expected at Madison Square Garden in the group competition later that night.

Fittingly, he’ll share that stage with a rock star in his own right — and Bono the Havanese still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

Thor, Bono and plenty more good boys and girls were set for group judging Monday night after fetching best in breed ribbons at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side. The herding, hound, nonsporting and toy groups will be decided at the Garden, with the other groups — and best in show — to be crowned Tuesday night.

Thor is looking to build off a major title in the fall, while Bono — the top-rated pooch in the country last year and a recent runner-up to Thor — is hot after his first Westminster title.

Being top dog among the 2,630 entries won’t come easy. This year’s best-in-breed winners include George the bichon frise, son of stunning 2018 Westminster champ Flynn, and at least one dog from three-time champion handler Gabriel Rangel — his most recent prize came last year with King the wire fox terrier.

Stocky, sweet and with a champion’s cool, Thor has quite a following after more than 25 million viewers saw him win the National Dog Show televised on Thanksgiving Day.

With a dedicated fan section waiting for him at the ring this time, the brown and white 2-year-old born in Peru earned a best of breed ribbon and advanced to the nonsporting group judging.

Handler Eduardo Paris appreciated the audience support.

“Many people came to see him,” Paris said after the early victory.

Bono’s turn came a couple of hours later. Eyes locked with trainer Taffe McFadden, the dog named for U2’s frontman he patted around the ring calmly, his mustache flowing at his side.

“He loves it,” McFadden said. “”He is in it”

Immediately after, Bono was swarmed by dog show judges-in-training eager to inspect the superb example of the national dog of Cuba.

Bono was rated the No. 1 show dog in the country last year, but he’s yet to fetch the top prize at the circuit’s two most heralded shows. Bono was runner-up at Westminster last year to King the wire fox terrier, and also finished second to Thor at the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day.

If Bono wins the toy group, another showdown with Thor could be on deck.

“Step one,” McFadden said. “Let’s get on that Garden stage again. Let’s see.”

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Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner

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