Many people called this week’s Westminster Kennel Club win by the 15” Beagle, CH Tashtins Lookin for Trouble an upset and if you are counting Bests in Show, Miss P could be considered a giant killer. As a Beagle breeder and judge, I couldn’t be happier with her win. Moreover, as a “hound person” in general and a staunch supporter of the joys and benefits of purebred dogs, I look at Miss P’s victory as more than a cause for celebration for one breed. It is a victory for all of us “in dogs”.
For the first 130 or so years of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show judging, Hound breeds were almost completely ignored in the Best in Show ring. Yes, the glamorous Afghan hound and the eye-catching Whippet being the rare exceptions. Until Uno burst through to BIS glory in 2008, very few hounds had been recognized by Westminster, one of the most prestigious shows in the country and probably the one show watched by the general public. Now, in 2015, Miss P becomes the third Hound to take home the prize in just seven years, joining a real surprise but very deserving winner, Hickory, the Scottish deerhound in 2011.
Individually, Miss P has beautiful breed type and conformation, is one of the best moving Beagles currently competing, and she certainly has the charisma that made her the crowd favorite last night. That crowd appeal is also why her victory means more than recognition for one individual breed or even group.
As Uno so ably demonstrated, the Beagle is a breed the public can get behind. In this day and age when responsible dog breeders are tarred with the same brush as so-called puppy millers (or worse) here is a well-bred, purebred dog that the general public embraced, rooted for and can love. I would be equally (well almost) as happy for our sport to see a Golden, Lab or other “people’s dog” take home the top prize at Westminster or any other major show that receives significant public attention and media coverage.
Judges may love the exotic, but if we are to continue to enjoy our wonderful dogs – and the privilege of showing them – we need a little more positive PR so that the general public can again embrace all our wonderful breeds and realize that a “rescued” dog may be cool, but a purebred dog is the reason we still have – and will continue to have—healthy, happy and stable dogs to live with and love in the future.
Bravo and congratulations to Miss P, her owners, handler and especially her breeders – well done. The mantle of winner and flag bearer for our sport couldn’t fall on more capable and deserving shoulders, or in Miss P’s case, withers.