On Tuesday night, the crowd who had gathered for the annual Westminster Dog Show had a clear champion in their hearts, chanting “Bean, Bean, Bean!” in support of a frisky Sussex spaniel. Others were rooting for Burns, a longhaired dachshund, and a breed that has never won the award for top dog. They were, alas, disappointed when the Best in Show ribbon and cup were handed to King, a regal wire fox terrier with a calm and collected demeanor. Boos could be heard in the crowd among the cheers, and online, the reaction of dog lovers was similarly unenthusiastic:
It was a win described as “a victory for convention” by the New York Times, who rudely described wire fox terriers as the “New England Patriots of the dog show world.” Yes, it is true that these terriers have won Best in Show 15 times. And yes, it is true that the judge who gave out the award, Peter Green, is a noted terrier enthusiast, raising suspicions of bias.
But why the hate for this beautiful bearded pup with perfectly floppy ears and hauntingly sad eyes? His owner Gabriel Rangel described him as “a beautiful painting” and the “whole package,” and I agree! What has King (whom I personally would have named Rufus as hello, look at him) done to deserve our ire?
It is clear that we humans are projecting onto his compact yet powerful and eminently huggable body our own desires for a measure of justice and equality in the world. As my Jezebel colleague Jennifer Perry, who was there at Madison Square Garden when his triumph was announced, told me, King “was not a dog of the people, which is what we needed in these trying times.” Who, after all, wants the New England Patriots to win again? Who wants Joe Biden to win the Democratic presidential nomination? I don’t!
But this is unfair to King, who is merely a beautiful dog who has no idea why he is forced to trot around a ring all day and just wants our love and affection and maybe a bone every now and then. May I suggest that we admire him on his own merits, which are many—how wonderful he would look in plaid, the perkiness of his tail, his legs which are reminiscent of nothing other than paint rollers, how nice it would be to enjoy a cup of tea with him by our side on a cold winter day.