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Though there are numerous dog shows held around the US every year, none are considered as prestigious as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Now celebrating its 144th year, the "Super Bowl" of the canine world, is America's oldest dog show. This year's event, which took place at New York City's Madison Square Garden from February 8 to 11, 2020, attracted 2,500 competitors representing 204 breeds from 49 states and 19 countries.
To whittle down the large number of entrants to seven finalists, the dogs first have to compete and win in one of seven categories — sporting, non-sporting, toy, hound, working, terrier, and herding. This year's final contenders included Bourbon, a whippet who won the hound group; Bono, a Havanese, who snagged top honors in the toy group for the second consecutive year, and Wilma, a boxer who won the judge's nod in the working group. There was also Conrad, a Shetland sheepdog who led the herding group; Vinny, a fox terrier, who won in the terrier category, and Daniel, a golden retriever who beat out 31 other breeds to snag the top honors in the sporting group. The gorgeous pooch also won the hearts of the hundreds of people at Madison Square Garden and those watching at home. Many hoped he would become the first golden retriever to win the coveted Best in Show title in the competition's 144-year-history.
However, it was the winner of the nonsporting group — a standard poodle, with shiny black hair and a shaved backside, named Siba — who won the judge's nod for the championship title. Though the decision seemed to stun the audience, her handler Chrystal Murray-Clas was not surprised, saying, “She’s beautiful and has that something." The win could not have come at a better time for the 3-year-old pooch, who was competing in her final show. Siba is only the fifth standard poodle ever to win the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show title, and the first of her breed to do so since 1991.
Along with the prestigious accolade, Siba also received the customary purple and gold rosette and a massive silver trophy. The sleek pooch also got to enjoy some of the perks of being America's top dog before heading back home to Allentown, Pennsylvania. 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 private meeting with American fashion designer Michael Kors!
Standard poodles, which typically stand over 15 inches tall are the largest members of the three categories of poodles, with females weighing between 40 to 50 pounds and males as much as 70 pounds. Though grouped under the nonsporting category, they are great hunters and love to swim. The calm, confident, and happy canines also make great service dogs. As you may have guessed, the dogs do require extensive grooming. According to Siba's owner, Connie S. Unger, the pooch's weekly routine takes about six hours — two to three hours for the bath and another two to three hours to properly dry out her dense, thick coat!
Resources: Mcall.com. Washingtonpost.com, NPR.org,Pennlive.com