NEW YORK — Siba, a black standard poodle with a meticulously groomed coat and a taste for chicken, won best in show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, Feb. 11, defeating a final group of contenders that included a wildly popular golden retriever and two repeat best in show contestants.
Siba is the fifth standard to win the show’s top prize and the first since 1991. The last poodle to take top honors was a miniature, Surrey Spice Girl, in 2002.
“She knows she’s special,” Siba’s handler, Chrystal Murray, had said when she advanced to best in show Monday, and the best in show judge, Robert H. Slay, tuning out the cheers of a crowd chanting the name of Daniel the golden retriever, agreed.
Murray, who is also Siba’s owner, said she liked poodles because they do not shed and are thus hypoallergenic. And despite her prim appearance, Siba, she said, was just a family dog who “knows when to tone it down and sleep on the couch.”
Siba has only one regular requirement: She prefers chicken. When Murray couldn’t find any, she turned to the closest available option: chicken sandwiches from a nearby McDonald’s.
The only thing fancy about her, it seemed, was her haircut and her full name: GCHP CH Stone Run Afternoon Tea.
Daniel, a golden retriever, was the clear crowd favorite in the final judging. The champion representing one of the most popular breeds in America, Daniel was attempting to become the first golden to take the top prize in a competition that was first held a decade after the Civil War. The crowd chanted his name as Slay contemplated his decision.
Two of the finalists, Bono the Havanese and Wilma the boxer, had won their groups to advance to best in show for the second year in a row. But both came up short again.
Vinny, the wire fox terrier, was hoping to deliver a second straight title — and a record 16th over all — for his breed. He may have been hurt by recent history: a wire fox terrier had won last year, drawing groans from a terrier-weary crowd.
Bourbon, a sleek whippet seeking his breed’s first title since 1964, won Monday’s runner-up prize, reserve best in show.