It’s what all the dogs are barking about: Flynn the Bichon Frise won Best in Show at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night.
As always, the competition was fluffy and fierce, but it was Flynn aka GCHP CH Belle Creek’s All I Care About Is Love, with help from his handler Bill McFadden, who beat out thousands of other canines from 202 breeds to win the coveted purple ribbon and title of top dog
After winning the Non-Sporting Group earlier in the show, Flynn took center stage at New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the Best in Show round with Lucy the Borzoi, Biggie the pug, Slick the Border Collie, Bean the Sussex spaniel, Ty the giant schnauzer and Winston the Norfolk terrier filling out the pack.
Giant schnauzer Ty, who, according to the Associated Press, entered the competition as the country’s No. 1 show dog, won the second place honor Reserve Best in Show.
If the crowds filling the seats around the green carpet had their choice, Biggie the Pug or Bean the Sussex Spaniel, who won over the audience with his sitting trick, would have triumphed based on applause alone.
But as Best in Show judge Betty-Anne Stenmark said before announcing the winner, the round is about choosing the dog who best meets the Westminster Kennel Club’s breed standard, not crowning the cutest canine.
“It feels a little unreal,” McFadden told AP. “I came in expecting nothing except hoping for a good performance, and I think I got it.”
This is five-year-old Flynn’s 42nd career Best in Show success. To celebrate this big win, the majestic puff ball will go on the traditional Westminster Best in Show victory lap, which includes a special lunch at famed New York City eatery Sardi’s, a trip to top of the Empire State Building and plenty of press appearances.
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Flynn unseats last year’s Westminster Dog Show winner, Rumor the German shepherd. Like Rumor, Flynn plans to retire after his Westminster win according to his handler.
McFadden, who also strutted Mick the Kerry blue terrier to victory in 2003, is happy for his pooch partner and the life of leisure ahead of him, but says he will miss working with the Bichon Frise.
“He has my heart,” McFadden said. “He is pure joy.”