NEW YORK -- Good ol' Snoopy, a champion at last.
Barking and baying up a storm, Uno lived up to his name Tuesday
night by becoming the first beagle to win best in show at the
Westminster Kennel Club.
The nation's new top dog was clearly the fan favorite, and drew
a roaring, standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Madison
Square Garden when he was picked.
Uno got right into the act, jumping up on handler Aaron
Wilkerson and confirming his other title: noisiest in show. Years
from now, he'll be known for the "ah-roo" heard 'round the ring.
"He's a people's dog, a merry little hound," Wilkerson said.
The only dog consistently listed among America's most popular
breeds for nearly 100 years, a beagle had never won in the 100
times Westminster picked a winner. That changed when judge J.
Donald Jones pointed to this nearly 3-year-old package of
Uno was numero uno, beating out two perfect poodles, a top
Sealyham terrier, a sleek Weimaraner, a lively Australian shepherd
and a sprightly Akita.
"We knew he was going to be No. 1. I didn't know he'd do it
this fast," Wilkerson said.
Uno celebrated by chewing on the microphones of reporters who
tried to interview his winning crew. Those had to suffice for the
yellow, soft duck that's his favorite toy.
"He's perfect, he was a 10," Jones said. "He does cuteness
More than 169 breeds and varieties were represented at the 132nd
Westminster Kennel Club event, and the competition brought 2,627
Barks echoed around Madison Square Garden as the crowd cheered
its favorites, among them a Neapolitan mastiff that lumbered around
the ring, a Chihuahua that spun in circles and a miniature pinscher
that plucked a piece of food off the green carpet without missing a
Formally known as K-Run's Park Me in First, Uno came into this
competition wagging his white-tipped tail with 32 best in show
ribbons overall. Yet he was surely an underdog -- make that an
Underdog -- because no beagle had even won the hound group since
But Uno fixed that, breezing in the 15-inch breed judging on
Monday morning and taking his group several hours later. So while
other dogs tried to reach the final ring Tuesday, Uno spent the day
going on a brisk walk around Manhattan and taking a nap underneath
his warm, fuzzy blanket.
But when it came time to show, Uno was as precocious and
precious as ever.
With fans calling out his name and clapping, he soaked in the
cheers as he paraded around the ring, the cheers becoming more
thunderous with every step. And when he made his final stop in
front of Jones, Uno went to town, baying over and over.
Even when he returned to sidelines as other dogs were judged,
Uno kept going. Quite a win it was for Eddie Dziuk of Columbia,
Mo., and the other three co-owners.
"My sister called me today and said she's always turned off the
dog show on TV because she's tired of all those poodles winning,"
Jon Woodring, one of the other co-owners, said earlier in the day.
"But she watched last night. I think Uno winning would show that
an everyday dog can do it."
Longtime dog expert David Frei, the paw-by-paw announcer for USA
Network's coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club show, went even
"If he wins best in show, I'll rent him an apartment in New
York City because I'll be traveling with him all year, so many
people will want to see him," he said. "If he won, it would be
the greatest thing for our show."
Better get that first rent check ready -- Uno is here to stay.
No hound of any kind had won at Westminster since 1983, and a
toy poodle that began the night with 108 best in show prizes stood
in Uno's way.
It was an upset in the show world, where wire fox terriers
usually wobble off with the prize ribbon. Sort of like the
boy-next-door becoming president -- that's how it was to see an
everyday backyard pet earn the silver bowl.
With pleading, golden-brown eyes, Uno certainly looked like the
picture of man's best friend.
Exactly why beagles hadn't done better at shows was somewhat of
a mystery. Some say that they're so common, they don't stand out in
the ring. Others say they're hurt by being an "honest dog" -- as
in, they're not a masterpiece carved with a pair of clippers.
Jones did not realize he'd made history by choosing the first
beagle at Westminster.
"I had no idea," he said.