TARRYTOWN, NY – A bloodhound named Trumpet won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Wednesday night, marking the first time the breed has won America’s most coveted dogdom award.
On Thursday, Trumpet toured New York, admiring the view from the top of the Empire State Building and enjoying a juicy steak served on a platter at Central Park’s Tavern on the Green.
Rounding the finalists ring with a poised and powerful stride, Trumpet beat a French Bulldog, German Shepherd, Maltese, English Setter, Samoyed and Lake Terrier to claim the trophy.
“I was shocked,” said handler, co-breeder and co-owner Heather Helmer, also known as Heather Buehner. The competition was tough, “and sometimes I feel like the bloodhound is a bit of an underdog.”
After marking the history of dog shows, does Trumpet have an idea of its particularity?
“I think so,” said his Berlin Center, Ohio-based coach.
After his victory, Trumpet patiently posed for countless photos, eventually beginning to do what sleuths do best – sniff. He examined a few decorative flowers that had been set up for the photos, not seeming to find anything remarkable.
Winston, a French Bulldog co-owned by NFL defensive lineman Morgan Fox, took second place in the nation’s most prestigious dog show.
“I’m so proud of him and the whole team,” Fox said via text message afterwards.
Fox, who was just signed by the Los Angeles Chargers and played for the Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers, got Winston from his grandmother, Sandy Fox. She has bred and shown Frenchies for years.
Morgan Fox grew up with one and says watching Winston mature he knew the dog was a winner in both looks and character. He went to Westminster as the highest ranked dog in the country.
“It’s a pleasure to be with him,” Fox said by phone ahead of Winston’s award. “He always walks around with as much of a smile on his face as a dog can get.”
The seven finalists also included Striker, a Samoyed who also made the final last year; River, a winning German Shepherd; MM the Lakeland terrier; Beautiful the English ferryman, and a Maltese who was clearly aiming for fame: her name is Hollywood.
After topping the dog rankings last year, Striker has recently been to a few dog shows “to keep his head in the game,” handler Laura King said.
What makes the snow-white Samoyed shine in competition? “His heart,” said King, of Milan, Illinois.
“His charisma shows when he shows up,” and he complains vocally when he doesn’t, she said.
While silent in the ring, an Alaskan Malamute let out a howl – cheers? – soundtrack of a semi-final featuring the Samoyed and other breeds classified as working dogs.
The competition attracted over 3,000 purebred dogs, ranging from Affenpinschers to Yorkshire Terriers. The objective is to crown the dog that most represents the ideal for its breed.
Usually staged in the winter at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the show moved to the suburban Lyndhurst estate last year and this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some dogs, like golden retrievers, have faced dozens of competitors just to win their breed and advance to the semi-finals. Others were among the rare representatives of rare breeds.
Ooma was the only Chinook who showed up. Sled pullers are the official state dog of New Hampshire, but they are rare nationwide.
“I would love to see a few more” in the ring at Westminster, said Ooma breeder, owner and handler Patti Richards of West Haven, Vermont. “Without people who will show and reproduce, we risk losing our breed.”
Even for hopefuls who didn’t walk away with a ribbon, the event was a chance to showcase dogs and all they can do.
Bonnie the Brittany is the first show dog of owner-handler Dr. Jessica Sielawa, and their teamwork extends beyond the ring.
Bonnie accompanies Sielawa to work at her chiropractic practice in Syracuse, New York, where “she’s really helped people deal with their emotional stress,” Sielawa said.
She also plans to have her show dog certified as a therapy dog.