After two days of meticulous primping, prizes and the less-pretty realities of any spirited championship, the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show came to its finale Tuesday night, declaring Affenpinscher Banana Joe the best in show.
The competition proved fur-rocious as the pint-sized, black-haired furball bested six other finalists (and 2,721 entries total) for the honor, including Old English Sheepdog Swagger, who was named the reserve best in show. It’s the first time the breed has ever taken home the top prize in Westminster history.
Earning top marks at Westminster is the latest accolade in Banana Joe's storied run. The paw-dorable pooch, who is 5 years old, has been named best in show 86 times in his career, and his Westminster win will go down as his last.
"It's all so indescribable. It's just a wonderful thing as a tribute for a small breed with such a big heart," handler Ernesto Lara said post-victory. "The plans for him now is for him to retire back home where he was born, and that's in the Netherlands."
Describing his little buddy, Lara praised the breed for its commendable qualities as a canine companion.
"An Affenpinscher is a very human-like dog," he said. "It's definitely a breed you don’t want to tame or train, in the proper sense."
"You want to befriend it," Lara continued. "Once you gain the friendship, they're loyal just like a human friend."
As for Banana Joe's big victory, "Nobody told him he's small," said Lara, "and I don't think he'll believe that."