National Dog Show: Meet Bernie, a Bridge Collie, and more top pooches

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

There’s never a dull moment at the National Dog Show , since it is America’s largest sporting event, two weeks before Super Bowl LIII. It’s held at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This year’s annual competition takes place on Friday and Saturday (and Sunday is reserved for agility). The dog (an American Kennel Club-sanctioned “Best in Show” winner) is crowned on the opening night and the National Dog Show airs Monday, January 28, on NBC.

A new pet celebrity, Milo, sits in his own featured window. Courtesy NBC

This year’s best-in-show contestant is Bernie, a pair of Border Collies bred to be man’s best friend. However, these powerful canines are also battle-tested heroes.

“They are the guardians of our independence and we must ask them to guard our independence. They are our amazing heroes,” explained Tom Shone, an actor who portrays Bernie in the new Netflix documentary “Marillion: A Dog’s Life”

Milo, a golden retriever, is home-schooled. Courtesy NBC

The five-pound Bernie was originally rescued by Grady Borlaug , a famous American farmer known for developing high-yield genetically modified wheat varieties — giving the world an abundance of bread and pasta. The unlikely pair joined forces and won the hearts of millions.

Rosie, a female Border Collie, is adopting her new home dog, Billie, after he got dropped off at a shelter in 2014. Courtesy NBC

Other animals taking part this year include Millie, a Boxer with lisps and a history of spinal problems; Kodi, a boxer with ear infections; two of the largest working dogs in the world, a German Shepherd and a Great Dane; Miss P, a Border Collie whose playful and elegant personality has earned her a spot on countless magazine covers and has given her name to a top 10 bestselling novel.

Spencer, the biggest, baddest Great Dane ever born. Courtesy NBC

There are two newcomers to the 2015 Best in Show — a Pomeranian and a Border Collie.

Spencer, a Great Dane and reigning National Best In Show, became part of the Best-in-Show Show family last year. However, he’s now back to defend his title after having some minor injuries and learning to walk again after a hospital stay.

“He just wants to sit on the counter and eat it and sniff stuff,” his trainer Ken Sarvyn tells CNN.

Ben, a border collie, is just 15 months old, which is normal for him for a year, his owner Kara Brauer says. “We’re just thrilled to be back here.”

The new exhibit at the 2015 National Dog Show exhibition. Courtesy NBC

The little dog with the big dreams.

Tessa is a 4-year-old boxer who was almost paralyzed after being run over in the streets of Madrid. Tessa was given a break but then caught a disease from a pebble she’d picked up. She was removed from school and all of her instincts took a back seat.

Her trainer Connie Juric and the staff at the American Kennel Club’s Windsor Square SPCA had to get Tessa ready to be selected for this year’s competition.

Another new addition to the 2015 National Dog Show exhibition. Courtesy NBC

Cross-breed fanatic, Dexter, has a real fan club. Courtesy NBC

Dexter, a cross-breed dog, came under the radar of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2014. His owners and trainers Beth and David Fitzpatrick began training him when he was a puppy.

His pictures have become a sought-after meme.

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