NEW YORK — This Buddy Holly no longer has to sigh, “That will be the day.”
A Vendéen petit basset griffon named after the late rock ‘n’ roll legend won best show at Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday night, a first for your rabbit-hunting breed.
Buddy Holly beat out six other finalists to win the most prestigious dog show award in the United States. PBGVs, as they are known for short, rank as the 154th most prevalent thoroughbred in the country, according to recent American Kennel Club rankings.
“I never thought a PBGV would do this,” said manager and co-owner Janice Hayes. «Buddy Holly is the epitome of a show dog.»
His competitors included Rummie, a Pekingese who was aiming to take home the third trophy in 11 years for his small but majestic breed. Winston the French bulldog was seeking the title after coming very close last year.
An Australian Shepherd named Ribbon, an English Setter named Cider, a Giant Schnauzer named Monty, and an American Staffordshire Terrier named Trouble were also in the contending pack.
If Buddy Holly was feeling the pressure, he wasn’t letting it show before the finals. Instead, he seemed more concerned Tuesday afternoon with playing with his people and rejecting the idea of a nap in his cage.
“It just screams PBGV,” Hayes said. “They are very independent but very charming and goofy. His goal is to make you laugh every day.”
Originally from France, little hounds were traditionally rabbit hunters. (His name means «wire-haired dog from the Vendée region» and is pronounced peh-TEE’ bah-SAY’ grihf-FAHN’ vahn-DAY’-ahn.)
Buddy Holly, so named because «he’s a friend,» explained breeder Gavin Robertson, has also lived and raced in his native UK and in Ireland and Australia.
Ribbon is “like the fun girl at the party,” manager Jessica Plourde said. Rummie is «true to the Pekingese type, lots of carriage, presence, all rolled into one, here,» said owner-breeder David Fitzpatrick, who guided Pekes Malachy and Wasabi to Westminster victories in 2012 and 2021, respectively.
Winston came second at Westminster last year and won last fall’s National Dog Show, organized by the Philadelphia Kennel Club. It now represents the most prevalent dog breed in the United States, according to rankings released in March.
He “just steals your heart,” manager and co-owner Perry Payson said after Winston’s spirited semifinal twist, which included an impromptu leap into a decorative box in the middle of the ring.
Each Westminster finalist has first outperformed other dogs of their breed, then those of their «pack» such as toy dogs or bloodhounds. Among the breeds for the semifinal group judging Tuesday night was the newly eligible Bracco Italiano, won by a dog. co-owned by country music star Tim McGraw.
In addition to the chosen finalists, there were other fan favorites as well.
There was the bloodhound who bowed deeply before a judge, the golden retriever cheered by the many fans of the breed and the brave German shorthaired pointer who did a few hops before going around the ring. Onlookers cheered for 10-year-old handler Audra Maes and hers shiba inu and breeder/owner/caretaker Alexandria Mitchell and her Ibizan hound. They made the first judge’s cut, an achievement at a show where many exhibitors handle other people’s dogs for a race.
The Westminster Show, held this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centerit also includes obedience and agility contests open to mixed-breed dogs.
Some 2,500 dogs of 210 breeds and varieties competed for the trophy. Hundreds more competed in agility, obedience, and other events.