February 13, 2008 in Nation/World

Beagle is best in show

Ben Walker Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Uno, a 15-inch beagle, poses with his trophy after winning best in show at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – America has a new Snoop doggie.

Barking and baying up a storm, Uno lived up to his name Tuesday night by becoming the first beagle to win best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club.

The nation’s new top dog was clearly the fan favorite, and drew a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden when he was picked.

Uno got right into the act, jumping up on handler Aaron Wilkerson and confirming his other title: noisiest in show. Years from now, he’ll be known for the “ah-roo” heard ‘round the ring.

The only dog consistently listed among America’s most popular breeds for nearly 100 years, a beagle had never won in the 100 times Westminster picked a winner. That changed when judge J. Donald Jones pointed to this nearly 3-year-old package of personality.

Uno was numero uno, beating out two perfect poodles, a top Sealyham terrier, a sleek Weimaraner, a lively Australian shepherd and a sprightly Akita.

“We knew he was going to be No. 1,” Wilkerson said.

More than 169 breeds and varieties were represented at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club event, and the competition brought 2,627 entries.

Barks echoed around Madison Square Garden as the crowd cheered its favorites, among them a Neapolitan mastiff that lumbered around the ring, a Chihuahua that spun in circles and a miniature pinscher that plucked a piece of food off the green carpet without missing a beat.

Formally known as K-Run’s Park Me in First, Uno came into this competition with 32 best in show ribbons overall. Yet he was surely an underdog because no beagle had even won the hound group since 1939.

But Uno fixed that, breezing in the 15-inch breed judging on Monday morning and taking his group several hours later. So while other dogs tried to reach the final ring Tuesday, Uno spent the day going on a brisk walk around Manhattan and taking a nap underneath his warm, fuzzy blanket.

But when it came time to show, Uno was as precocious and precious as ever.

With fans calling out his name and clapping, he soaked in the cheers as he walked around the ring. And when he made his final stop in front of Jones, Uno went to town, baying over and over.

Quite a win it was for Eddie Dziuk, of Columbia, Mo., and the other three co-owners.

“My sister called me today and said she’s always turned off the dog show on TV because she’s tired of all those poodles winning,” Jon Woodring, one of the other co-owners, said earlier in the day. “But she watched last night. I think Uno winning would show that an everyday dog can do it.”

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