Pumpkin nearly clinched it.
But the Jersey dog faced some formidable competition in the non-sporting group at the 2022 Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday.
The 2-year-old Dalmatian from Milltown, handled by Michael Scott and owned by Barbara Kaplan-Barrett and Edward Barrett, wound up in the group’s No. 2 spot.
Besting the top specimen of her breed was none other than the No. 1-ranked dog in the country: Winston, a 3-year-old French bulldog from Bixby, Oklahoma.
The Frenchie also has a connection to the (human) sports world.
Winston, a light fawn or cream-colored dog co-owned by NFL player Morgan Foxwon the non-sporting group to qualify for best in show at the 146th Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
The Super Bowl of the dog show world will name its champion Wednesday, June 22 in Tarrytown, New York.
For the second year in a row, the dog show had to move from winter in Madison Square Garden to summer on the grounds of the Lyndhurst estate in Westchester County because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winston, handled by Perry Payson, strutted his stuff under a large festooned tent Tuesday night at Westminster. French bulldogs are the fifth largest entry at the dog show (41) behind golden retrievers (70), Labrador retrievers (49), pugs (46) and Rhodesian ridgebacks (43).
Fox, 27, currently a defensive lineman with the San Diego Chargersformerly played for the Los Angeles Rams and the Carolina Panthers.
“(K)now you must be proud…. has Winston been training with you on the field to get a leg up in the competition?” dog show sponsor Purina Pro Plan tweeted at the football player.
“(A)pparently I should be training with him,” Fox replied.
Several other Westminster winners were chosen the first night of group competition, becoming contenders for best in show alongside No. 1-ranked Winston.
Hollywood, a snowy white Maltese with bows in her hair, won the toy group. The 3-year-old dog, handled by Tim Lehman, hails from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
Trumpet, a 4-year-old bloodhound from Saint Joseph, Illinois handled by Heather Buehner, won the hound group.
And coming out on top in the herding group was River, the No. 1 herding dog in the country. The 5-year-old German shepherd from Woodstock, Georgia, handled by Lenny Brown, will have more company when best in show starts Wednesday.
Three more groups remain — the terrier, sporting and working groups. Each of those winners will be decided as the show continues Wednesday night.
The mudi, a Hungarian herding dog, also competed at Westminster for the first time. So did the other “new” breed, the Russian toy dog.
Last year, the winner of the toy group, a Pekingese named Wasabi, won best in show.
But that’s not the only big title at Westminster.
Earlier in the week, dogs and their handlers triumphed in agility and obedience competitions.
Monday saw the seventh consecutive Jersey obedience victor in Willie, an Australian shepherd from Flemington, who won the 2022 Westminsters Obedience Championship his owner-handler, Kathleen Keller.
On Saturday, Bee, a Shetland sheepdog from Ohio helped along by her owner-handler Jennifer Crank, demonstrated remarkable speed and skills on an obstacle course to win the 2022 Westminster Masters Agility Championship with a time of 29.81 seconds.
The 2022 Westminster Kennel Club dog show Continues with breed competition all day Wednesday, June 22, followed by evening group competition and best in show. See our Westminster viewing guide for how to watch the dog showincluding TV channels, streaming and full schedule.
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