A sparkling black Dutch-born Affenpinscher that goes by the name Banana Joe was the first of his breed to win the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at New York’s Madison Square Garden last night.
“This little fellow seemed to want it just a touch more,” Michael Dougherty, the best-in-show judge at the 137th annual contest, told the media after selecting him over six other finalists. “He has a fantastic face and an absolutely perfect body.”
The breed originated in Central Europe and earned the nickname “little devil with a moustache,” according to the American Kennel Club.
“This is a breed they call the ‘monkey dog,’ and they’re really human-like,” the dog’s handler, Ernesto Lara, said as he cradled the five-year-old, its mouth ajar and tongue protruding. “This isn’t a breed you train. You really befriend them.”
Lara said the dog has a comically serious mien. “He doesn’t know his size. He doesn’t know that he has a pushed-in face.”
Dougherty, the judge, works in public relations and is a former professional handler of purebred dogs. He bypassed other compelling canine narratives in selecting the Affenpinscher.
A 90-pound (40-kilo) Old English Sheepdog named Swagger, competing in just his fourth show, was a crowd favorite. He took second place.
Another finalist was Matisse, a Portuguese Water Dog, which is the same breed as the dog the Obama family has. It would have been a newsy choice on the night of the president’s State of the Union address.
“I thought about seven dogs and seven standards and compared each one to its standards,” Dougherty told reporters.
The other finalists were: an American Foxhound, a Bichon Frise, a German Wirehaired Pointer and a Smooth Fox Terrier. The Westminster Kennel Club is a tax-exempt New York organization that holds one dog show a year. This year’s winner was chosen from about 2,700 entrants.
A Pekingese named Malachy was 2012’s best in show. Lara said Banana Joe, known as Joey, will retire from the purebred circuit and return to the Netherlands.
Jocelyn Mullins, whose Doberman Pinscher Fifi was bested by the Portuguese Water Dog in the working-dogs group, called the Affenpinscher an excellent choice.
“He’s a lovely little dog and has lots of personality,” she said in an interview. “I’d take him home.”
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