NEW YORK—Danny, an 8-year-old Asian mix from Sterling, VA, beat out 2,500 top contenders from around the country Tuesday to win best in show at the 135th annual Westminster Boy Show.
Standing in the winners circle before a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden, Danny impressed judges and fans alike with his even temperament and self-assured attitude. Handler Kenny Earle said he was not at all surprised by the outcome, describing Danny as the most well-rounded boy he has seen in 17 years of training boys.
"We knew we had a world-class show boy on our hands from the time Danny was 3," Earle said after rewarding Danny with a Rice Krispies treat. "I've worked with Asian mixes extensively, and they tend to be very skittish and shy—especially those from Korean stock. But not Danny. He's always been obedient, polite, and totally confident."
"None of the other boys out there even came close to him," Earle continued. "Not even that gorgeous Afghan longhair."
According to a citation issued by the judging panel, Danny excelled in every standard for boys in the mixed category, achieving a flawless, even stride while being led around the show ring. Additionally, Danny received top marks for his glossy, healthy-looking bowl cut and perfectly pressed khaki slacks.
"With Asian mixes, what the judges are really looking for is bone structure and lots of personality," Westminster show chairman Tom Webb said. "Danny won his group largely thanks to his prominent cheeks and clean jaw. You could just tell from the moment he started trotting the floor that this boy was going to be a real crowd favorite."
Sources said Danny's victory is especially notable because it marks only the fourth time in the event's history that a boy of mixed pedigree has taken top honors. Purebreds have been the perennial victors, and bigger breeds from the working-boy group—those traditionally used on farms and as golf caddies—have won the past six Westminster shows.
Perhaps most surprising to boy aficionados was the judges' decision to award second place to Timothy, a 6-year-old from the Husky group, a category of boys lauded for the entertainment they provide but seldom taken seriously in competition.
"Everyone loves the Husky boys, but they're still viewed as something of a novelty," show organizer Shelly Winthrop said of the soft, somewhat clumsy breed often referred to as the clowns of the boy world. "With their rounded flanks and drooping hindquarters, they tend to breathe heavily while gaiting, which works against them during judging. Hopefully Timothy's showing here today will help these boys get more positive recognition."
"After all, Husky boys are now the most common type of boy in the country," Winthrop added.
This year's Westminster Boy Show also had its less-than-triumphant moments, however. Ricky, a 10-year-old from the Bully group, reportedly bit a judge while having his teeth inspected, and Rodney, a favorite to win the Mama's Boy group, stained his short-pant suit when he grew nervous and urinated midway through his trot around the ring.
Still, longtime show-boy fans said the 2010 edition included some of the strongest competitors in recent memory.
"This is my fifth time coming, and the boys this year were simply breathtaking," spectator Tanya Poole said. "So frisky and full of life, and just immaculately groomed. Even though they're only boys, you could somehow tell they were having the time of their lives."
Echoing the sentiments of many others, Poole added that she couldn't wait to get home to see her own boy, Jeffrey, and let him out of his crate.