Buddy Holly, a fetchingly bewhiskered petit basset griffon Vendéen, won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, beating back a field of fellow champions that included last year’s runner-up, Winston the French bulldog.
“I have dreamed of this since I was 9 years old,” said Buddy Holly’s owner and trainer, Janice Hayes. She called the dog, whose full name is CH Soletrader Buddy Holly, “the epitome of a show dog; nothing bothers him.”
Tuesday night was Hayes’s third attempt at Westminister, which she said she had watched with her father since she was a child. Hayes said she was most impressed with how Buddy Holly performed, because “he did exactly what I wanted him to do.”
Now, Hayes said she’s most excited for Buddy Holly to get back to being a regular dog and hanging out with “his girlfriends.”
Frisky and friendly, he is the first dog of his breed — a type of hound often referred to by their initials, P.B.G.V., because that is easier to say — to win best in show at Westminster. Second place went to Rummie, a Pekingese whose breeder and handler, David Fitzpatrick, has produced two previous best in show winners, including Wasabi, the 2021 champion.
“It’s a small breed and we like it for that because they’re not for everyone,” Hayes said while pulling her dog away from eating a nearby flower. She added: “We spent a long time a long time getting this breed noticed and it’s fantastic to put them on the map.”
The finalists represented a range of options for the experienced judge, Beth Sweigart, whose job was to select which dog was the most outstanding example of his or her breed. Along with Rummie, who won the Toy group, and Winston, who won the Non-Sporting group, the other contenders included Cider the English setter, winner of the Sporting group, who charmed the crowd with her flowing coat and gliding gait.
There was also a proud American Staffordshire terrier named Trouble, who took the Terrier group; Ribbon, a bright, enthusiastic Australian shepherd, who won the Herding group; and Monty, a magnificently bearded giant schnauzer, winner of the Working group.
Each was judged not on their cuddliness, beauty or charm, but on how well they adhered to the standard of their breed. Sweigart took her time with her choice, running her hands and eye over all the finalists, watching them run around the ring and building the drama before choosing her champion.
Buddy Holly joined a line of winners that has recently begun expanding into a variety of breeds after years of domination by terriers. Last year, a jowly bloodhound named Trumpet took best in show and before him were Wasabi the Pekingese and a black standard poodle named Siba.
“They’re not your golden retriever that’s going sit there and ask you what you want to do,” Hayes said. “Like they do their thing. But when they get it, they make you laugh every day no matter what.”
Defeat will sting for Winston, if show dogs feels the sting of defeat, that is. He was the runner-up last year — the official title is reserve best in show — but failed to break through despite his pristine, smooth coat and his charming demeanor.
Will he be back? He declined to comment.