By Roselle Chen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wasabi, a fuzzy Pekingese with a black and brown face and soulful eyes, was the top dog in New York on Monday, posing at the Empire State Building a day after winning the Best in Show category at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Gail Miller Bisher, Westminster Kennel Club director of communications, said Wasabi had an impressive pedigree. “Wasabi’s grandfather actually won Best in Show in 2012, Malachy was his name. And Wasabi’s father won the toy group in 2015. So there is a lineage here of top dogs.”
Bisher said Wasabi won because of his rolling gait and confidence.
“The other dogs, it’s just a few steps, but he has to take a lot more. And he took them with pride and an attitude,” she said.
Holding Wasabi on the Empire State observation deck, his fur flying in the wind, breeder-owner-handler, David Fitzpatrick, described how thrilling it was to win.
“I get choked up just talking about it,” he said. “I never thought he would win … Pekingese are laid-back and they have a very regal disposition. But when he’s in the ring, he knows how to turn it on.”
Wasabi also posed for pictures next to a trophy cup and a large purple and yellow ribbon.
This year marked the first time the show was not held in Manhattan.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers moved the show from its usual Madison Square Garden digs to the 19th-century Lyndhurst Mansion by the Hudson River in Tarrytown, and delayed it from February so it could be held outside.
Held annually since 1877, the show is one of the oldest and most popular sporting events in the United States. Dogs from more than 200 different purebred breeds can compete, with judges determining which contenders best conform to their breed’s standards.
Wasabi beat out more than 2,500 other dogs to win Best in Show.
(Reporting by Roselle Chen; Editing by Karishma Singh)