Buddy Holly, a small Basset-Griffon Vendée, was awarded the prestigious Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, ahead of the other six canine finalists and their guardians.
According to a recent ranking by the American Kennel Club, PBGVs, as they are called for short, are ranked 154th among purebreds in the country.
“I never thought PBGV would do this,” said handler and co-owner Janice Hayes. “Buddy Holley is the epitome of a show dog.”
Buddy Holly – so named because “he’s a buddy”, explained breeder Gavin Robertson – has also lived and competed in his native Great Britain, as well as in Ireland and Australia.
When Buddy Holly felt the pressure, he didn’t let it show. Instead, he seemed more preoccupied late Tuesday night, playing with his humans and rejecting the notion of taking a nap in his crate.
About 2,500 dogs of 210 breeds and varieties competed for the trophy. Hundreds more competed in agility, obedience and other events.
“He just screams PBGV,” Hayes said. “They’re just very independent, but very charming and just silly. Their goal is to make you laugh every day.”
Originally from France, the little hounds were traditionally rabbit hunters.
Other finalists included Pekingese Ramy, who was aiming to bring home the third trophy in 11 years for his small but royal breed. French bulldog Winston was aiming for the title after coming very close last year.
An Australian Shepherd named Ribbon, an English Setter named Cider, a Giant Schnauzer named Monty, and an American Staffordshire Terrier named Trouble were all in the pack of contenders who came up short.
“Ribbon is like a fun girl at a party,” said handler Jessica Plourde. Rummy “fits the Pekingese type, lots of movement, presence – it’s all in one,” said owner and breeder David Fitzpatrick, who rode Pekes Malachi and Wasabi to Westminster victories in 2012 and 2021 respectively.
Enter Winston second at Westminster last year and won last fall’s National Dog Show organized by the Philadelphia Kennel Club. Now he presents the most common dog breed in the United States according to a ranking published in March.
He “just steals your heart,” said handler and co-owner Perry Payson after Winston’s spirited semifinal turn, which included an impromptu jump into a decorative box in the center of the ring.
Each Westminster finalist first beat other dogs of their breed and then their “group”, such as toy dogs or hounds. Among the breeds judged in Tuesday night’s semi-final group was a recently-qualified Italian brittany, won by a dog co-owned by country music star Tim McGraw.
In addition to the chosen finalists, there were other fan favorites.
There was a bloodhound who bowed deeply to the judge, a golden retriever who was cheered on by many fans of the breed, and a cheeky German shorthair pointer who did a few jumps before going into the ring. The audience applauded 10-year-old ruler Audra Mays and her Shiba Inu, as well as breeder/owner/handler Alexandria Mitchell and her dog Ibiza. They made the judge’s first cut, an achievement at a show where many exhibitors handle other people’s dogs as a career.
This year, the Westminster Show was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.