Everyone’s a champion, but there can be only one Best in Show

When handler Kellie Fitzgerald sank to her knees after her English Springer Spaniel, Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim (call name: James), won the coveted Best in Show distinction at the 2007 Westminster Dog Show, the result proved that the following still hold true:

  • The breed easily topped the number of 2006 American Kennel Club registrations, but a Labrador Retriever still has never won Best in Show. (While known as an excellent household pet, especially for children, Labradors tend to be too playful in the ring and therefore lack the regal poise and presence needed to win the competition.)
  • It’s hard out there being a…small dog. Just as in beauty pageants and modeling competitions, contestants who are vertically challenged have a slimmer chance of success. It also didn’t help that this year’s winner in the toy group, a poodle named Ch. Smash Jp Win A Victory, looked like a miniature version of the non-sporting group winner, a standard poodle named Ch. Brighton Minimoto.
  • No matter what the outcome, everyone – or every dog, in this case – is still a winner.

That last truth can be applied to any type of competition, but it does carry some weight at Westminster, where the 2,500 available slots are only available to dogs who are American Kennel Club champions, hence the “Ch.” (short for “Champion”) before every full name.

But from the 165 breed and variety winners – narrowed down to seven group winners – there can be only one “Best in Show,” and on the night of Feb. 13, 2007, it was James who stood alone. He bested a couple other crowd favorites, including Harry (Ch. Hobergays Fineus Fogg), the Dandie Dinmont Terrier co-owned by Bill Cosby that was the No. 1-ranked dog last year. James posed calmly in the center of the ring on the purple Westminster Kennel Club carpet, flanked by an astonished Fitzgerald, who picked up her second title after winning in 2000 with the same breed. “He always gives 200 percent,” someone from James’s camp said of the Spaniel, who retired after the competition.

For more of the evening’s festivities, check out the photo gallery below.

Feb. 13, 2007: Photo Gallery

all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine