The flavor of the year at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show: Wasabi. A Pekingese named Wasabi won best in show Sunday night, notching a fifth-ever win for the unmistakable toy breed, the AP reports. A whippet named Bourbon repeated as runner-up. Waddling through a small-but-mighty turn in the ring, Wasabi nabbed US dogdom’s most prestigious prize after winning the big American Kennel Club National Championship in 2019. “He has showmanship. He fits the breed standard. He has that little extra something, that sparkle, that sets a dog apart,” said Wasabi’s handler, breeder, and co-owner, David Fitzpatrick. Show judge Patricia Trotter said simply: “What's not to like about this dog? ... He stood there as though he was a lion."
Fitzpatrick, of East Berlin, Pa., guided the Peke’s grandfather Malachy to the Westminster title in 2012. Still, he said, “I just don't always think lightning is going to strike twice.” How will Wasabi celebrate? “He can have a filet mignon. And I’ll have Champagne,” Fitzpatrick said with a laugh. The 3-year-old Pekingese, meanwhile, was “pretty nonchalant about the whole thing,” his handler said. Indeed, Wasabi laid down on the dais, occasionally looking up as if to see what the fuss was all about, as Fitzpatrick spoke before a cluster of reporters and cameras. It was a poignant win that came after one of his co-owners, archaeologist Iris Love, died last year of COVID-19. Besides Fitzpatrick, the dog is also co-owned by Sandra Middlebrooks and Peggy Steinman. (More on the show, which underwent big changes this year, here.)