Host of New York's Westminster dog show to step down after 25 years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - David Frei, the longtime co-host of New York’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show, will step down this year, organizers said on Wednesday, ending a quarter century as the voice of one of the world’s most prestigious showcases for purebred dogs.

Frei, known for his vast knowledge of purebreds and quirky canine anecdotes, will “move on to other opportunities” after co-hosting the two-day show for a final time on Feb. 15 and 16 at Madison Square Garden, Westminster said in a statement. He has generally worked with a different co-host every year.

Frei hosted his first Westminster show, entering its 140th year, in 1990. He is a champion breeder and handler of purebred dogs, particularly silky-coated Afghan Hounds and bird-hunting Brittanys. He is also known as an advocate of therapy dogs.

It was not immediately clear who would replace Frei, who also serves as Westminster’s communications director.

Gail Miller Bisher, a dog show judge and exhibitor, has been named the club’s new communications director.

“For someone who loves dogs as I do, there is nothing more exciting than to be part of The Westminster Kennel Club, the premier organization in our sport and such a strong voice for all dogs,” Bisher said in a statement. Frei could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show hosted nearly 200 dog breeds and varieties from 15 countries and all U.S. states except North Dakota and Idaho last February.

A bouncy 15-inch beagle named Miss P won the top honor of “Best In Show”, besting more than 2,700 competitors.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by James Dalgleish