Though there are numerous dog shows held all around the country, none is as prestigious as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Now in its 139th year, the "Super Bowl" of the canine world, is America's oldest dog show. This year's event which was held at New York City's Madison Square Garden from February 17-18th attracted 3,000 hopeful pooches representing over 190 dog breeds.
The first round of the competition involves the dogs competing in one of seven categories - Sporting, Toy, Hound, Working, Terrier, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The front-runner in each gets to represent his/her group for the coveted 'Best in Show' title, an award, dog owners liken to winning an Oscar.
Among the pooches that made this year's final seven was Matisse, a Portuguese Water dog that is related to White House pet, Sunny. Also selected for a second year in a row was last year's runner-up, an Old English Sheepdog named Swagger. Then there was Rocket, a Shih Tzu, Charlie, a Skye Terrier, and Flame, a Standard Poodle.
However, this impressive line-up of veteran competitors did not appear to faze first time entrant, "Tashtins Lookin for Trouble" aka Miss P. The four-year-old Beagle performed her routine flawlessly, easily winning the admiration and vote of Judge David Merriam. The "princess" as her handler Will Alexander calls her, accepted her win gracefully without as much as letting out a yelp, which as Beagle owners can attest is difficult for the normally noisy breed. The only sign that she was excited came from her wildly swinging tail!
However, the audience was not as subtle. Many let out gasps of shock when the winner was declared. That's because they had expected the more experienced Matisse, who has an astounding 238 titles to his name, to be declared "top dog".
There is also the fact that "normal" dogs like Beagles have rarely won the Westminster Dog Show, which has a penchant for pooches bred for show, not petting. However, while the audience may have been surprised, Miss P was not. After all, it was her great-uncle Uno, who first broke the breed's over 100-year-old losing streak by winning this prestigious title in 2008. Though nobody know how Uno reacted to Miss P's victory, his owner said the now retired pooch did watch the show on his "personal" television.
In addition to the coveted title, Miss P also received the customary purple and gold rosette and shiny bowl. She also got to enjoy some of the perks of being America's top dog before heading back home to British Columbia. These included interviews on several national television shows, a visit to the Empire State building, a special meal at New York's legendary Sardi's restaurant, and even a walk-on part in the Broadway hit musical "Kinky Boots!"
Resources:al.com, qz.com, washingtonpost.com