By Ben Walker Associated Press
NEW YORK — This Peke was at his peak.
Malachy the Pekingese wobbled off with best in show Tuesday night at the Westminster Kennel Club, becoming America’s dog to the delight of an adoring crowd.
The 4-year-old bobbing pompom won his 115th overall best-in-show title. He beat out a Dalmatian, German shepherd, Doberman pinscher, Irish setter, a Kerry blue terrier and wire-haired dachshund at Madison Square Garden.
Handler David Fitzpatrick carried Malachy onto the green carpet for the final lineup, shortening the long walk to the ring.
Judge Cindy Vogels picked the winner as fans hollered for their favorites. The No. 2 show dog in the nation this year was clearly the most popular, and Malachy won after taking the toy group here last February.
The champion at Westminster wins a coveted silver bowl, but not a cent of prize money. Instead, the prestige of this title lasts a lifetime for any owner, and brings a wealth of opportunity in breeding potential.
This was the fourth time a Peke won at Westminster, and the first since 1990.
Several top choices lost out early as underdogs ruled the breed judging.
A black cocker spaniel called Beckham who was the nation’s No. 1 show dog and a wire fox terrier named Eira picked by many to win proved once again it takes more than a great reputation to own the green carpet.
More than 2,000 purebred dogs were entered overall. Marlene Ness came from Canada to show her black cocker, Ace. Her main opposition? Beckham.
Yet on this day, Ace was aces. Best dog of his breed.
Ace, however, was topped by the Irish setter in the sporting round.
Eira, who won the prestigious National dog show televised on Thanksgiving Day and was the top terrier last year, made an early exit.
It was, however, a really big day for a Tibetan mastiff from Seattle, and even more so for his owners.
Major won his breed, a nice start for Debbie Parsons and Brad Slayton. A few hours later, the two were married in a Valentine’s day ceremony in the backstage benching area where hundreds of dogs are housed.
With dogs brushing by and the total crush of the crowd, Cherilyn Frei, a chaplain and the wife of Westminster television host David Frei, performed the ceremony.
The 120-pound Major stood between Parsons, 54, and the 58-year-old Slayton.
They kissed him to celebrate.