Frank Franklin II / AP
A Wire Fox Terrier named King has conquered the crown at the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. He is the 15th Wire Fox Terrier to win "Best in Show".
"You know, I love you all," said Peter Green, the Best-in-Show judge, when he stood in front of the finalists. "Everyone of you." Then Green, who for years honed his own craft as a professional handler for terriers, raised his arm and pointed to the dog he apparently loved the most. "He's the best on the show."
The 7-year-old King is "as good as he gets," said Green, according to USA Today. "The head, the expression, everything is real, really as good as it gets, and then the handler has it in perfect condition."
"I look at King, he's such a beautiful painting, a work of art," King's handler, Gabriel Rangel, said earlier in the day. "As he stands and plays, he is the whole package."
Within two days the judges chose the field of 2,800 dogs in 203 races on only seven – the best specimen of each race. Then, late Tuesday, the field dropped to six when a Michigan Schipperke named Colton was found ineligible for conflict of interest. (One of its owners has a "remote working relationship" with Judge Green, the handler wrote.)
The judges decide which dog is "best" by comparing the dog to the ideal standards of its own race. "Dogs were originally bred to perform certain tasks, be it hunting, guarding, tracking or comradeship," explains the Westminster Kennel Club on its website. "The standard describes what a dog should look like to do its job."
A Wire Fox Terrier that was originally bred for hunting foxes should be "alert, fast and strong, expressive, expectation at the slightest provocation," according to the official standard of the American Kennel Club. The standard describes in detail how the body of the dog should look and how stiff the coat should be.
The personality of the terrier helps them especially well in the field of tension of a national dog show, the terrier breeder Diane Orange explained. "They are so open-minded and so full of themselves that they are not exhausted," she said. "And they do not burden the way some of the more sensitive races do that – very few things bother a terrier."
Bono the Havanese won the second place. In the final, Burns was the long-haired dachshund, a fan favorite. Burns has won 26 Best-in-Show titles at various dog shows, but never at Westminster, the New York Times reported. "I think one of the reasons why some races do not make it to the end is that they are not the glamor races that are so conspicuous in the group," said Walter Jones, vice president of the Badger and Club of America times.