Daniel, the Golden Retriever Snubbed at Westminster, Is Doing Just Fine


Cheers from the audience at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show nearly lifted the roof at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night as Daniel, a 5-year-old golden retriever, circled the arena.

After beating out 32 setters and spaniels in the sporting class, Daniel became one of the first golden retrievers to make it to the final round, best in show — a feat noted in Daniel’s hometown paper.

The crowd, and fans watching online, were behind him.

“If Daniel doesn’t win we riot,” one supporter wrote on Twitter.

But instead, a black standard poodle named Siba took the pageant’s top prize, and was showered with purple ribbons and silver trophies.

Cue the riots.

Across the internet, people demanded justice for Daniel, who had adorably hugged his handler after winning his group.

“A poodle winning over a golden retriever like Daniel is everything that’s wrong with our country,” one Twitter user said.

They also demanded answers from the kennel club.

“While Siba’s win should not be discounted, I can’t help but believe that certain popular breeds (i.e. labs, Golden retrievers, beagles, French bulldogs) are too ‘common’ to be canine royalty,” one person said on Twitter, using the hashtag #danielwasrobbed.

On Wednesday, Daniel was sanguine about the loss.

“He is happy to be home and just hanging out,” Tammy Tomlinson, one of Daniel’s owners, said in an interview.

“This morning, he dug himself a nice hole in the backyard and decided to lie in it,” she added.

Ms. Tomlinson, who runs Hillock Golden Retrievers in Ligonier, Pa., said it was “a wonderful feeling” hearing the audience chant Daniel’s name.

But, she said, “it was Siba’s night. She’s a beautiful, beautiful representation of her breed.”

The decision rested with the judge’s preference, she said.

“Another night with a different judge,” she said, “the outcome would be totally different.”

Siba is the fifth standard poodle to receive Westminster’s top honor and the first since 1991. In nearly a century and a half, a golden retriever has never gotten the top prize from the judges.

Could the breed be too common? Golden retrievers, along with labradors, German shepherds, French bulldogs and bulldogs, are among the most popular breeds, according to the American Kennel Club, but no Labrador, golden retriever or French bulldog has ever won best in show.

Or perhaps too good looking? One could call the golden retrievers the Brad Pitt of dogs, with silky blond tresses and sympathetic eyes. It took Mr. Pitt decades to be recognized with an Oscar for his acting.

Representatives for the Westminster Kennel Club could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Ms. Tomlinson, who has four decades of experience breeding and showing golden retrievers, did not have an answer.

“I have no clue,” she said. “But I hope at some point that changes.”

Back in Pennsylvania, Daniel is getting lots of hugs, she said. He has plenty of other accolades from retrieving ducks and birds in hunting competitions.

“He’s not just a pretty face,” she said.


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