Westminster Dog Show 2021: Wasabi the Pekingese Wins Best in Show

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Whoa, the Pekingese is from Pennsylvania! That means the current president AND ruling dog are both from Pennsylvania. This is going to play very well … in Pennsylvania.

It always comes back to the swing states. Can’t escape them. Even when it comes to heavily blow-dried dog shows with mysteriously oversized ribbons.

I’m glad the Pekingese won because it proves none of us understood at all what we were watching or talking about. Wasabi has taught us all humility. Arigato, Wasabi!

Now we get an interview with the winning trainer. How will Wasabi celebrate? With a filet mignon, his trainer says.

He also says that the Pekingese has “showmanship.” Which seems to involve being carried around.

Wasabi the Pekingese wins Best in Show!

THE PEKINGESE???? WHATTTTTTT????

The Pekingese can’t even stand up for its own award ceremony.

It’s not a dog. It’s an Ewok!

Is this a competition that includes Muppets???

I can’t believe we waited 3.5 hours for the Pekingese to win. At least we’re getting overtime!

The upside to the Pekingese winning is that the other dogs probably don’t know they didn’t win.

A sharp-eyed colleague observes that Wasabi looks like the spawn of a mop and a Roomba. Fact-check: True!

Does the Pekingese know that he won? Unclear! Dogs!

I hope he gets some chicken with that ribbon that is bigger than his whole body.

Folks, this is the big moment!

It is criminal, criminal that the handlers get a trophy for Best in Show but I do not see any dog treats on this awards table.

There is a very big ribbon!

Hopefully the dogs like accolades.

Is this one judge in purple — Patricia Craige Trotter — the arbiter of all of this? Is there an appeal process or it’s just, like, what she likes?

It’s her call and hers alone.

Like “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Lisa, there was a gauzy Fox segment about how famous she is in the dog world. She is the God of Dogs.

Her name is Pat Trotter, and she is 85 and a former sportswriter (!).

OK, the announcer just said the Pekingese has an “envelope-shaped head.”

I think, but am not sure, that it was meant as a compliment.

This Westie is from Thailand. Look at this dog and ask yourself, how would it do on a 16-hour flight from Asia?

The Westie being from Thailand is confusing to me. Did he come to the U.S. a long time ago? Or does his handler live in Thailand? Or is she an unfamiliar handler to him? Or does she fly to Thailand all the time? Or is he such an international athlete all concept of location is meaningless?

Connor the sheepdog is amazing, everyone. And enormous. If it goes bad for him, he could eat three or four of these dogs in a single bite and pick his teeth with the pointer.

The sheepdog can handle cattle. That’s how big he is.

The Pekinese does not look thrilled to be there.

The Pekingese looks and moves like a minor puppet out of “The Labyrinth.”

Is there always such rockin’ instrumental music? And doesn’t it hurt the dogs’ ears? It sounds loud to me, and my hearing is average at best.

Dr. Antkowiak says the whippets, along with some greyhounds, are among the “sweater breeds” that get very cold in the winter. If you have any other kind of dog, do not put a coat on it for any reason.

The James Mortimer trophy is the ultimate prize. Or treats. Your choice.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The winners of the seven groups are heading into the Best in Show judging:

  • Hound group: Bourbon, a whippet.

  • Toy group: Wasabi, a Pekingese.

  • Nonsporting group: Mathew, a French bulldog.

  • Herding group: Connor, an Old English sheepdog.

  • Sporting group: Jade, a German short-haired pointer.

  • Working group: Striker, a Samoyed.

  • Terrier group: Boy, a West Highland white terrier.

OK, here we go with the final seven. Let’s see if any of these dogs show signs of exhaustion.

The Westie is a 4-year-old from Thailand named Boy. He also faces the quickest turnaround to Best in Show. “He’s going to be a little winded,” his trainer Rebecca Cross said, “but he’s done it before.”

Dogs, handlers and judges rarely sit during Westminster weekend. It’s the thrill of victory … and the agony of de feet.

WILL SOMEONE ASK THE WESTIE WHAT HE THINKS?!?!?!?

OK, coming into Best in Show. I’m taking the Samoyed. Who does everybody else like?

I like the Samoyed, but my understanding is that nothing happens around here unless the Westie wants it to. So I guess the question is: Whom does the Westie want to win?

I’m all in on the Samoyed. You can’t resist the smile.

“Boy” the West Highland white terrier wins the terrier group. Big night for lovely white dogs so far.

That dog is blinding!

The dog “looks pretty happy to win.” I think that was the chicken treat talking.

Dr. Antkowiak says the West Highland white terrier is prone to chronic lung disease.

“With the heart of a hunter and a brain determined to outwit every adversary….” Sorry, this West Highland white terrier has killed HOW MANY people?

This is really a lot of terriers.

We could use a mutt interlude, or maybe a poorly behaved dog contest in which we see which dogs don’t jump on the counter or chew up children’s socks.

“The exact origin of the Norwich terrier is unclear” feels like a disqualifying sentence for the entire breed.

The DOG is happy to be at Westminster? I’m no therapist but that seems like some projection.

Wow, one of the announcers just brought up the film “Best in Show” and everyone seemed desperate to move on from it quickly — is that a sensitive subject?

There’s no quicker way to end a dog show interview than bringing up a movie that famously made fun of dog shows and the people who love them.

Barry Bonds is there! Andy, are there rules against these dogs taking performance enhancing drugs?

Who’s checking the pee? Not me.

Being named the best terrier is like winning the South Korean Olympic archery trials. The hardest part of the journey is surviving that. If you don’t win the gold — or the silver bowl — after that, it’s on you.

Veterinarian fact: There is a huge shortage of vets in America right now, exacerbated by the pandemic. It takes about a year to hire a new vet, and Dr. Antkowiak is hiring, if you’re a DVM out there and looking for a job.

This bull terrier is a descendant of Spuds MacKenzie, for those who remember ’90s-era Bud Light TV ads.

IS THAT TRUE?!

Well, a metaphysical descendant.

Time for a quick catnap. Er…

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Striker the Samoyed wins the Working group.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Striker, the Samoyed who won the working group, is a heavy hitter. He’s the No. 1-ranked dog in the country, a metric built out of competitions won and dogs defeated that I won’t even pretend to understand or explain. He’s also Canadian, from Toronto, and as white as he looks on television. Just an immaculate dog.

Was this event black-tie optional?

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Important update from Dr. Antkowiak: He says dogs can see the television. Though I have to tell you mine has not been interested in the dog show tonight.

New breed, old tricks.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Sure. Eat chicken. Run around. Sit for three-hour blow outs. Seems like a pretty good life.

This is going by quickly.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

OK, maybe we’ve had views of the announcers before but this is the first time I noticed them, and I was shocked to realize they are in opera attire.

Did you guys hear that commentary just now? “He just wants to be a dog right now,” she said. As opposed to what?

AS OPPOSED TO CAITY WEAVER! And who could blame him?

Striker the Samoyed wins the working group!

That the standard schnauzer used to be known as the “ratter” feels like something the schnauzers wouldn’t want people to broadcast on national television.

Readers, thank you SO MUCH for sending us all your dog photos at #nytdogshow. Here are a few more of our favorites:

And now the Epstein dogs-in-heaven section.

My sister’s dog, Oliver, a great Alaskan Husky who passed away last week.

And thanks to my mother, this is my childhood Labrador, Roxie.

Snack break anyone?

Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Apparently Samoyeds are “the happiest dogs on the planet,” Dr. Antkowiak says.

I’d LOVE to have the happiest dog on the planet, but there’s no way I could keep a white dog that white.

They smile to keep the drool from forming ice on their face? That does not seem that happy of a story.

That’s why I smile too.

Why is the back of this Portuguese water dog shaved? Looks like it’s not wearing pants. “It’s the dog best suited for Zoom calls,” Dr. Antkowiak says.

Like most people, I know the Portuguese water dog as “The Obama Dog” — and I’m so glad they never groomed theirs like this! That cold booty!

Jade leads the way to victory in the sporting group.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Jade, the German short-haired pointer that just won the sporting group, has great blood lines: She is the daughter of C.J., the pointer who won Best in Show in 2016 with the same handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson.

But it was a poignant victory for Nunes-Atkinson, too. Her beloved C.J. died in September after a sudden illness. His daughter Jade now has a chance to follow in his footsteps. “She’s a lot like him,” Nunes-Atkinson said.

For these dogs, beauty is a full-time job.

We’ve brought in an outside expert for dog show commentary: Dr. Matthew Antkowiak, the owner of AtlasVet in Washington and the veterinarian for my dog, Nellie. He’s here to help us navigate tonight’s festivities and will give us a heads up if any of these dogs are injured — so long as Nellie stops licking his face.

We asked on Twitter for dog photos, and you answered. Here are a few of our favorites that came in via #nytdogshow, like Buster, a fellow New York Times dog:

Archie, a Labrador ready to go swimming:

Autumn, a Llewellin setter enjoying the mountains:

Charlie, a way-too-small toy poodle:

And Pepper, a very tall dog owned by our friends at The Washington Post:

Hugs from tall dogs, flyaway hairballs, a mastiff’s mug and a convenient place to keep a comb: Here are scenes from the daytime competitions that led to tonight’s prime-time finale.

Welcome to our live coverage of the final night of the Westminster Dog Show, the night when they separate the dogs from, well, the other dogs.

There are four new breeds at the show this year and three new voices in our coverage: Lisa Lerer and Reid Epstein from the New York Times politics team, who are well versed in preening showboats, and Caity Weaver, whose last article was about the website for the 1996 movie “Space Jam,” which makes her an honorary sportswriter. But she writes for Styles, and if there’s anything we’ll need tonight, it’s a bit of style.

The top dogs are competing for these water bowls, er, trophies tonight.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Thousands of dogs compete against others from their breed: collie against collie, Saluki against Saluki. The 200 or so breed winners advance to compete against similar breeds in the group finals. The seven group winners then vie for the big prize: Best in Show, this year to be judged by Patricia Craige Trotter of Carmel, Calif. The decision is hers and hers alone.

  • The hounds are hunting dogs and include beagles and whippets. (Saturday’s winner: Bourbon, a whippet.)

  • The toys are small lap dogs like Shih Tzus and pugs. (Saturday’s winner: Wasabi, a Pekingese.)

  • The nonsporting group might well be called the miscellaneous group. It includes dogs that don’t fit elsewhere like Dalmatians and chow chows. (Saturday’s winner: Mathew, a French bulldog.)

  • The herding group was bred to herd and includes German shepherds and Border collies. (Saturday’s winner: Connor, an Old English sheepdog.)

  • The sporting dogs are retrievers and include Irish setters and various spaniels. (Winner chosen tonight.)

  • The working group consists of dogs bred to perform a task and includes Great Danes and Doberman pinschers. (Winner chosen tonight.)

  • The terriers include a host of varieties including fox terriers, Border terriers and many others. (Winner chosen tonight.)

This video from the American Kennel Club describes a typical dog show process in more detail:

From left, a barbet, Biewer terrier, Belgian Laekenois and Dogo Argentino made their debuts this week.
Credit…John Minchillo/Associated Press

More than 200 breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club and are therefore eligible for the Westminster show. The four new entrants in 2021 are:

  • The barbet, a curly haired bearded dog;

  • the Belgian Laekenois, a shaggier shepherd;

  • the Biewer terrier, a longhaired, three-colored toy terrier;

  • and the Dogo Argentino, a white muscular dog with a smooth coat.

Here’s this year’s barbet competition:

The Belgian Laekenois round:

And the Biewer terrier judging:

For the first time, Westminster is being held at Lyndhurst, the Gothic Revival mansion and estate in Tarrytown, N.Y., once owned by the robber baron Jay Gould. Gould and his family loved dogs, though probably not having them hang out in tents and cars all over their lawn. Oh well. That’s what we have.

The 2019 Best in Show winner was a wire fox terrier named King.
Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Handicapping a dog show field is a bit harder than picking the winner of the fourth race at Belmont. It is commonly said that terriers are the best bet, and the wire fox terrier does have the most wins, with 15. But terriers have won only two of the last 10 Westminsters, so prediction is difficult.

There may even be terrier fatigue: When King, a wire fox terrier, won best in show honors in 2019, not everyone was thrilled. “Boos and grumbles filled Madison Square Garden when the judge handed King the coveted pewter cup,” The New York Times wrote then.

Video

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King, a wire fox terrier, won best in show at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday. Wire fox terriers have won best in show more than any other breed in the competition’s history.CreditCredit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

There are show favorites and crowd favorites, and those are not always the same breeds. Golden retrievers and Labradors, for example, are two of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, but neither has ever won best in show at Westminster.

“If you had a popularity contest, we would win,” Christine Miele, the Eastern vice president of the Golden Retriever Club of America, told The Times in 2019.

There will be a whippet named Bourbon and a Pekingese named Wasabi. A French bulldog named Mathew — wait, shouldn’t that be Mathieu? — won the nonsporting group, and an Old English Sheepdog called Connor was judged the best of the herding entries. (He also looked big enough to eat a couple of rivals if the result had not gone his way.)

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