NEW YORK -- A tiny, black affenpinscher named Banana Joe won the coveted Best in Show award at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, beating out more than 2,700 others for a title that guarantees canine fame, great dating and mating opportunities, and a chance to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
Banana Joe edged out a crowd favorite, an Old English sheepdog named Swagger. The five other finalists and their categories were a German wirehaired pointer named Oakley in the sporting group; a Portuguese water dog named Matisse in the working group; an American foxhound named Jewel in the hound group; a bichon frise named Honor in the nonsporting group; and a smooth fox terrier named Adam in the terrier group.
One by one, they were trotted around the green-carpeted floor of Madison Square Garden to the roars and applause of spectators after two days of competition that began Monday. Cheers erupted in the huge arena as the judge, Michael J. Dougherty of Escondido, Calif., paced in front of the final group, examining the dogs' muscle tone, teeth, ears, head size, jaw, stance, and the other details that separate a mere dog from a champion.
“Every one of you deserves some serious ribbonage tonight. Unfortunately I have but two,” said Dougherty before walking over to Banana Joe, who already has more than 80 best-in-show titles at various competitions.
“It’s almost indescribable,” Banana Joe’s handler, Ernesto Lara, said, describing the dog as a “small breed with a big heart.”