Earlier this week, over 2,800 dogs representing 187 breeds, descended upon New York's Madison Square Garden to participate in the 138th annual Westminster Kennel Dog Show. Often referred to as the Super Bowl of the dog world, the two-day event that took place from February 10-11th, is not just the country's oldest dog show, but also, the most prestigious one!
The dogs first compete in one of seven categories - Sporting, Toy, Hound, Working, Terrier, Non-Sporting and Herding. The winner in each category represents its group for the coveted 'Best in Show' title, which according to dog owners is the equivalent of winning an Oscar in the canine world.
Among the finalists this year, were veterans like Classie, a 7-pound miniature pinscher who has won more than 120 Best in Show titles as well as 2.5-year-old Portuguese Water Dog Matisse, the cousin of White House top dog Sunny. Also present in the mix was last year's runner-up, a sheepdog named Swagger and Nathan, a 135-pound Bloodhound who instantly stolen the hearts of the thousands of dog lovers that had come to watch the show.
But cute as he was, Nathan did not win over the Betty Regina Leininger, the 'Best in Show' judge. Her eyes were set on Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier from Rialto, California. It took her just a few minutes to decide that the five-year-old deserved to be bestowed with the coveted title! In fact, Nathan did not even get the 'runner up' title. That went to the winner of the non-sporting group - Ally, a snow-white standard Poodle.
And while the audience may have not agreed with her pick, to Ms. Leininger, Sky's perfect demeanor and performance was what made her stand out from all the other contestants. The fact that she has admired Sky at other shows, did not hurt either. Also, the judges seem to favor this breed amongst all others - Sky is the 14th Wire Fox Terrier and the 46th Terrier (which also includes Scottish Terriers), to win this prestigious event. Though proud, Sky's handler Gabriel, was not surprised. She has after all already won 128 titles, including the National Dog Show and the American Kennel Club/ Eukanuba National Championships.
The day after winning the coveted purple and gold rosette and shiny bowl, Sky and Gabriel did the customary interviews on several national television shows. From there, it was time for the traditional meal at New York's legendary Sardi's restaurant, where Sky scoffed down the gourmet chicken presented to her in a silver bowl, in a few short minutes. Then, she hopped inside her spacious Best in Show trophy to meet and greet her admirers, which amongst others, included famous fashion designer Michael Kors, who dropped in to give Sky a special hug and kiss! After all the hoopla, the top dog returned home to California to get some well-deserved rest and get ready for the next big event.