It could be the day for the petit basset griffon Vendéen named for Buddy Holly. Or the Pekingese could notch his breed’s third Westminster Kennel Club dog show win in little over a decade.
And what about the French bulldog that nearly won last year? Or will the purple-and-gold best in show ribbon go to … Ribbon?
Buddy Holly the PBGV (for short), Rummie the Peke, Winston the Frenchie and Ribbon the Australian shepherd are headed to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show finals Tuesday, along with three other finalists yet to be chosen.
The first four got their chance to vie for the best in show trophy after making it through two rounds of judging Monday. First, each bested other dogs of its breed, and then of its “group” — toy dogs or hounds, for example.
Ribbon, the Aussie, is “like the fun girl at the party,” handler Jessica Plourde said. Buddy Holly is “just a PBGV through-and-through,” said handler and co-owner Janice Hayes. (The full name of the merry, low-slung French rabbit-hunting breed is pronounced peh-TEE’ bah-SAY’ grihf-FAHN’ vahn-DAY’-ahn.)
Rummie comes to Westminster with handler, owner and breeder David Fitzpatrick, who has guided two other Pekes to Westminster wins: Malachy in 2012 and Wasabi in 2021. Rummie has what it takes, too, he said.
“He moves so beautiful, true to Pekingese type, lots of carriage, presence — everything in one, here,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Frenchie, Winston, came in second at Westminster last year and went on to win last fall’s National Dog Show, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Now he’s representing the most prevalent dog breed in the United States, as of rankings released in March.
He “just steals your heart,” handler and co-owner Perry Payson said after Winston’s spirited turn, which included an impromptu leap into a decorative box in the middle of the ring.
But if those four were the chosen finalists, there were other fan favorites, too.
There was the bloodhound that bowed deeply before a judge, the shiba inu shown by a 10-year-old handler, and the Ibizan hound that breeder, owner and handler Alexandria Mitchell led to a strong showing.
The Ibizan hound, Hugo, made it past the judge’s first cut. That’s a feat for a breeder-owner-handler at a show where many exhibitors handle other people’s dogs as a career.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Mitchell, of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Audra Maes, at 10, was decades younger than many other handlers in the televised semifinals (which isn’t unheard-of in dog showing). But the Denver girl summed up the experience with aplomb: “It was really cool.”
Associated Press writer Anna Furman contributed. New York-based AP journalist Jennifer Peltz has covered the Westminster dog show since 2013.