A chow chow dog owned by a Franklin Township woman, whose kennel was destroyed by a devastating fire in March 2009, won the "Best of Breed" honors at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Maddox, who is registered with the AKC as GCH Liontamers Dial 1-800-Hotstuff, won the honors in his third appearance at Westminster.

Karen Tracy, who co-owns Maddox with Gerry and Richard Richards of Maryland, said before the show that Maddox will be retiring after this year's event.

The win by Maddox is especially heartwarming for Tracy considering the tragedy of the fire at her Pazzazz Pet Boarding Kennel. Tracy lost 17 dogs in the fire, including some of the chow chows which she bred, and some other breeds that were being housed at the kennel.

Maddox, fortunately, wasn't at the kennel when the explosion which caused the fire occurred.

Tracy, over the years, has had a close relationship with TV host Martha Stewart, who has purchased several dogs from her. One of Stewart's dogs was a grandparent of Maddox.

The reddish colored chow chow was virtually perfect in his Madison Square Garden appearance yesterday.

Although she has been raising chow chows for about 17 years, Tracy has always been impressed by the dog's mannerisms.

In a previous interview, she described him as being "very balanced, very correct. He has something that draws people into him, like the Brad Pitt syndrome."

Maddox was handled at the show by Tracy's friend, Jan Kolnik of Palmerton. Kolnik has handled Maddox since he was a puppy and the duo has been responsible for numerous trophies. Two years ago, just a few months after the Franklin fire, Kolnik led him to back-to-back Best in Show awards at well-regarded competitions held in Michigan. In each of those Michigan events, there were about 1,500 dogs entered.

Tracy remembers the first show in which Maddox competed.

"It was a two-day weekend show," she said. "He got back-to-back majors. The first day he was shown as a special, he won the Breed, took a Group 1, and later that evening won a chow chow specialty."

She laughingly recalled, "When Maddox was a puppy, he would hide under a ramp in the yard, or so he thought. His rear was sticking out on one side and his muzzle was sticking out on the other side of the ramp."