NEW YORK (AP) — With the world’s most prestigious award at the U.S. dog show on the line, canines and their handlers prepared Tuesday for their star turns at the Westminster Kennel Club Show.
Four finalists were already chosen on Monday. There were three more to go before all seven squared off for best show around 11 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.
Rummie the Pekingese is aiming to bring home the third trophy in 11 years for his small but majestic breed. Winston the French bulldog is fighting for the title after coming very close last year. A little Vendéen griffon basset named Buddy Holly is on the hunt for a big win in the USA after impressive performances in three other countries. And an Australian Shepherd named Ribbon could also corner the jackpot.
If Buddy Holly was feeling the pressure, he wasn’t letting it show. Instead, he seemed more concerned Tuesday afternoon with playing with his people and rejecting the idea of a nap in his cage.
“It just screams PBGV,” said manager and co-owner Janice Hayes. “They are very independent but very charming and goofy. His goal is to make you laugh every day.”
Originally from France, little hounds were traditionally rabbit hunters. (His name means “wire-haired dog from the Vendée region” and is pronounced peh-TEE’ bah-SAY’ grihf-FAHN’ vahn-DAY’-ahn.)
Buddy Holly, so named because “he’s a friend,” explained breeder Gavin Robertson, has also lived and raced in his native UK and in Ireland and Australia.
Ribbon is “like the fun girl at the party,” manager Jessica Plourde said. Rummie is “true to the Pekingese type, lots of carriage, presence all rolled into one here,” said owner-breeder David Fitzpatrick, who bred Pekes Malachy and Wasabi to Westminster wins in 2012 and 2021, respectively.
Winstoncame second at Westminster last year and won last fall’s National Dog Show, organized by the Philadelphia Kennel Club. is now representing the most common dog breed in the United States, based on rankings released in March.
He “just steals your heart,” manager and co-owner Perry Payson said after Winston’s spirited semifinal twist, which included an impromptu leap into a decorative box in the middle of the ring.
Each Westminster finalist has first outperformed other dogs of their breed, then those of their “pack” such as toy dogs or bloodhounds. Among the breeds that will qualify for the semi-final group judging on Tuesday night is the newly eligible Bracco Italiano, won by a dog. co-owned by country music star Tim McGraw.
In addition to the chosen finalists, there were other fan favorites as well.
There was the hound who bowed low before a judge, the shiba inu shown by 10-year-old handler Audra Maes, and the Ibizan hound who made the judge’s first cut with breeder/owner/handler Alexandria Mitchell. That was a remarkable achievement at a show where many exhibitors handle other people’s dogs as a race.
The Westminster Show, held this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centerit also includes obedience and agility contests open to mixed-breed dogs.
Associated Press writer Anna Furman contributed. New York-based AP journalist Jennifer Peltz has covered the Westminster dog show since 2013.