A Pekingese (finally!) wins Westminster Best in Show

In my years of covering the Westminster Dog Show – also known, in full, as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – I had secretly hoped that I would be able to see a Pekingese win Best in Show honors right in front of my eyes.  The largest dog show of its kind in the U.S., the Westminster continuously features dozens of breeds, ranging from the familiar (the Golden Retriever and the Beagle – remember Uno?) to the brand new (for 2013, the Treeing Walker Coonhound and the Russell Terrier).

However, my mind always wandered back to the Pekingese.  Perhaps this was due to the breed’s success in the Best of Group division over the years, giving it prominence on American television screens, but its inability to bag the grand prize.  The reasons vary, but what cannot be overlooked when watching the spectacle unfold in the Madison Square Garden ring is the comparison of the gait and size to other Best in Show competitors.  Put simply: while a Toy Group winner draws oohs and aahs up close, it finds difficulty commanding the presence of larger hounds, sporting dogs and even terriers.

But despite its appearance – a wobbling combination of a mop-meets-Ewok – the Pekingese is often referred to as a “regal dog,” its name referring to the old Chinese capital of Peking (now called Beijing) which is home to the Forbidden City.  And on Feb. 14, 2012, four-year-old Malachy (Ch Palacegarden Malachy) was crowned king, capturing Best in Show honors at the 136th edition of Westminster.

As I excitedly jumped up and down in the stands, angry Netizens took to social media networks to air out their grievances.  Perhaps earlier occurrences in the evening were a sign of things to come: the New York Knicks, playing on the road to allow thousands of dogs to compete on the green carpet, had defeated the Toronto Raptors thanks to Jeremy Lin’s last-minute three-pointer as Linsanity was about to reach its peak.  I cheered in the stands then as I did a couple of hours later. My fellow countryman – and now countrydog? – had represented well.

The 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show takes place in two locations this year: at Piers 92/94 during the day, and Madison Square Garden at night from Feb. 11-12. For more information, go to westminsterkennelclub.org.

Photo Gallery: 2012 Westminster Dog Show
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine