Wasabi, a low-slung, 3-year-old Pekingese from Pennsylvania, won Best in Show honors at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, his long tresses winning out in a field that included a trim whippet, a bushy sheepdog and a blinding white Samoyed that was the top-ranked show dog in the country.
“He has that little something special,” said Wasabi’s handler and owner, David Fitzpatrick.
The victory capped a most unusual pandemic year for Westminster and a most unusual show, one forced out of its regular winter window at New York’s Madison Square Garden to a June date on the rolling green lawn of a country estate in suburban Westchester County.
The dogs were judged in outdoor rings and competed for group and Best in Show honors inside a giant air-conditioned tent. No fans were allowed, but that did little to diminish the drama, or the achievement. “It was a show for the ages,” said the judge who made the final call, Patricia Craige Trotter.
But while a Samoyed, an English sheepdog and a West Highland white terrier added flashes of white and hopes for rare wins for their breeds, it was the long gray hair of the Pekingese that most impressed Trotter. A whippet was her second choice.
Wasabi’s next stop will be a media tour of New York on Monday and a big meal, Fitzpatrick said. (“He can have a filet mignon,” he said, “and I’ll have Champagne.”)
Wasabi will probably spend most of the tour as he spent Sunday, perfectly groomed and carried around in Fitzpatrick’s arms so he stayed that way. His handler said that would be just fine.
“He deserves his own chariot,” Fitzpatrick said.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.