Somebody has been a very good dog. Specifically a 5-year-old dog named Rumor. The magnificent German shepherd became the most important dog in the country at the end of a dramatic and adorable day at the Westminster Dog Show, beating out rivals like Chuckie, the Pekingese (who is surely hiding secrets under his impossible mane); Aftin, the sinister, night-black miniature poodle; and Tanner, a Norwich terrier who would likely lose a fight against even the most diseased subway rat. Rumor’s victory ends the longest drought ever for a breed at Westminster, which has crowned only one other German shepherd champion, back in 1987.
Westminster’s decision to honor Rumor is especially significant because, unlike previous years, she was clearly the audience favorite. As I reported Monday, her sizable following was just short of fainting any time she galloped across the floor, and this fluffy bitch even had a catchphrase (“Rumor has it!”). In past years, judges have ignored the will of the people to favor niche breeds. (Banana Joe, the Affenpinscher, in 2013. Never forget.) But Rumor is not a niche breed. Rumor is a victory for the people. Rumor had the popular vote. Maybe almost every other high-stakes competition lately had disappointing results, but the judges of Westminster knew what we needed: some cats (sort of) and a winner that we actually like.
Anyway, Rumor is a good dog. A very good dog. And I wish her well in her endeavors of “relaxing for a while” and finding “an appropriate husband,” in the words of her handler. I hear the Obamas’ Portuguese water dog Bo is single.
Alongside our proud champ, here are the evening’s standouts.
Most Relieved Dog: Miles, the Beagle
The night kicked off with the Junior Showmanship competition, during which a gang of Westminster teens took a break from whatever it is that Westminster teens do to show off their pups. When 16-year-old Mallori Seifert’s beagle, Miles, was awarded first place, he gleefully accepted the flowy blue ribbon, posed for photos, and offered a controversial acceptance speech in the form of relieving himself on the felted green. And here we thought this was the one award show that wasn’t going to get political.
Because this was Seifert’s first time showing at Westminster, she was shocked to win. But she says the 3-year-old dog’s unique mic drop was par for the course, given his “clownish” personality. “He is very quick to make sure that I come back down to reality.” (P.S. Try to out-rebel that, Mia, the beagle.)
Most Beautiful Love Story: Devlin, the Boxer, and His Handler, Diego
Bad handler-doggo chemistry is pretty hard to hide under the harsh fluorescent lighting of the Westminster floor. Which is why it’s refreshing when a pair really just, like, gets each other. Such was the case for Devlin, the boxer (a Canadian, according to the man waving a mini Canadian flag next to me), and his handler, Diego Garcia. After being plucked from a sea of fur as the very best worker pup, she and Garcia embraced for a tender and touching kiss, her eyes still glassy and wide from the shock of victory. The two later shared a supportive peck during the Best in Show round. Surely it’s something the canine tabloids will be buzzing about for weeks.
Fluffiest Butt: Tag, the Bernese Mountain Dog
This pooch’s poofy bum is maintained, in part, by a woman who wears a sweater on which the phrase “Peace, Love, and Berners” is embroidered. I petted Tag backstage before the competition. He is a wonderful fur cloud.