New York’s prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has chosen a beagle as its best in show, scoring a knockout blow for the breed for the second time in seven years.
Peyton, also known as Miss P, outperformed a cadre of higher-ranked Westminster stalwarts to take America’s most prized dog show.
A tri-colour beagle weighing about 13.5 kilograms, Peyton glided across the vast expanse of Madison Square Garden as she outperformed six other finalists selected from the more than 2,700 participants in the annual canine competition.
“She just never let me down,” said her handler Will Alexander.
“She just didn’t make any mistakes.”
Judges selected the best of each breed and group, divided into seven categories – hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier.
To get to the best-in-show round, Peyton eclipsed Nathan the bloodhound, the top-ranked hound in a competitive group that also featured highly touted Afghan hounds and whippets, among others.
Peyton, whose full name is Tashtins Lookin for Trouble, then took care of the nation’s top two ranked dogs, Matisse the Portuguese water dog and Swagger the Old English sheepdog.
Both dogs had prior experience navigating the rowdy finale of Westminster, which opens with a darkened auditorium as each dog is introduced individually before raucous cheers.
Yet, Miss P betrayed no nerves, gracefully navigating the garden with the ease of a pro.
The burly Swagger won the loudest cheers from the crowd and the elegant Matisse, who is related to one of president Barack Obama’s dogs, had the polite reception of a veteran and highly-decorated campaigner.
Yet Miss P took the crown.
“Certainly some other dogs had more credentials,” said David Frei, the official spokesman for Westminster.
Still, Mr Frei said the beagle’s victory did not qualify as an upset.
Miss P finished 2014 as the ninth-ranked dog in the country and had already amassed a slew of best in show wins.
Win or lose, Miss P had been planning to retire after Westminster and Mr Alexander said that was still on the cards.
She will ultimately reside with her owners, Lori and Kaitlyn Crandlemire, a mother and daughter, near Vancouver in Canada.
Miss P is a grand-niece of Uno, which made history in 2008 as the first beagle to win Westminster.
Uno’s win sparked an unprecedented standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
While Miss P’s win did not quite lift the audience from its seats, it prompted loud cheers commensurate with the seal of approval for one of America’s five most popular breeds.
A silky-haired shih tzu named Rocket won in the toy group. Rocket is co-owned by Patricia Hearst Shaw, the 60-year-old publishing heiress famous for being kidnapped by, and then apparently joining, the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s.