Feb. 12, 2008: See the final moments and celebration of the beagle Uno winning best in show at the Westminster Dog Show.
NEW YORK - Uno put his paws up on a table, took a flying nip at the nose of a Doberman pinscher, sniffed a chair and bayed at most everyone and everything in his path.
The prize beagle might’ve been romping around the 300-acre ranch in Texas where he lives. Instead, he was inside a rooftop ballroom at a Manhattan hotel.
“Just a dog being a dog,” David Frei observed this week.
The TV host and voice of the Westminster Kennel Club show for two decades, Frei can only hope this year’s event produces such a popular champion.
Uno certainly lived up to his name. He became the first Westminster winner to visit the White House, and also rode his own float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and fetched the first ball at a St. Louis Cardinals game.
It was beaglemania wherever he went, and the little 3-year-old traveled so much he even earned his own frequent-flier number on Midwest Airlines.
“We never had one like him,” Frei said. “He’s the kind of dog that you could imagine sitting on the couch next to you.”
That said, Uno’s romp is nearly over. Time to pick a new best in show.
A total of 2,486 dogs in 170 breeds and varieties are ready to walk the green carpet at Madison Square Garden, starting Monday morning.
Famed heiress Patty Hearst is set to make an early appearance, with a favorite French bulldog. Other notables bringing their pooches: the creator of “The Bachelor” television show and the parents of the brothers who founded the Taser company.
In fact, the monkey-faced affenpinscher called Taser is among the favorites for the champion silver bowl. So is a smooth-coated Brussels griffon originally from England, along with a Pembroke Welsh corgi.
A giant schnauzer is ranked No. 1 over the last year, but dog insiders — fanciers, they’re called — predict she won’t become America’s top dog. Best in show judge Sari Tietjen has spent a half-century working with Japanese chins and likes toy dogs, and both Taser and the Brussels griffon called Lincoln come from that group.
A pointer that won the big Eukanuba and National shows is out, for sure. Holly is now owned by a Westminster club member, making her ineligible.
Tietjen will make her choice Tuesday night shortly before 11 p.m., with fans cheering at the Garden and millions more watching on USA Network.
The nation’s economy may affect the two-day event. Entries are slightly down this year (it’s $75 per dog) and ticket sales (they range from $40 to $155 per day) are slower than last year, when it was a sellout.
While some topflight owners spend well over $100,000 a year showing their dogs, there are plenty of mom-and-pop operations. And no matter what time of year, a trip to New York is expensive.
About 1,000 or so dogs and their owners stay at the Hotel Pennsylvania, right across the street from the Garden. The most popular request this year?
“Everyone is asking for room 213A,” said Steve Leonard, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “That’s where Uno was last year, before he won.”
According to Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Las Vegas casino, a Brussels griffon is the favorite at 10-to-1. The odds are only for fun, but just in case, don’t bet on a Dogue de Bordeaux. Also known as a French mastiff, they’re a new breed at Westminster this year and Avello rates them at 1,000-1.
Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed at this year’s show with 47 entered. For 18 straight years, that’s been the most-registered purebred dog in the country, the American Kennel Club said.
There’s only one colored bull terrier entered — that’s the same breed as Rufus, whose football-sized head helped him win Westminster in 2006.
Rufus, a Newfoundland named Josh and a bichon frise called J.R. were among the most popular Westminster winners over the last several years. Then came Uno.
A tri-colored package of personality, Uno stood out in the show ring because he acted like everyone’s pet, barking and baying up a storm.
Uno retired from the show ring after winning Westminster and is set to begin breeding in March. In the meantime, he romps on the ranch outside Austin, Texas, where owner Caroline Dowell lives.
Dan Huebner manages the ranch and said Uno is a perfect play partner.
“He likes to tug on a red-and-white stuffed sock. That’s his favorite,” Huebner said. “And he loves to jump on the couch and watch football with me. Now that’s a good dog.”
Take a look at some past Best in Show winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Westminster Dog Show
Take a look at some of the pooches and their handlers as they participate in the 2008 dog show.
‘It’s an honor’
Feb. 12, 2008: Uno’s handler, Aaron Wilkerson, was speechless after winning best in show at the Westminster dog show.