Wasabi, winner of the 2021 Westminster Dog Show, how he spends his retirement.

East Berlin, Pa. – For a brief, glowing moment last summer, Wasabi Pekingis was America’s most famous dog, all hairy and hotter as he posed for his best in-show trophy at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

But a new champion will be crowned on Wednesday, when the 2022 competition ends in a mansion in Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, NY that raises the question: What happened to the old champion? Once the dog reaches the pinnacle of success, what does he do next?

On a recent visit to rural Pennsylvania, GCHG met CH Pequest Wasabi, as he is officially known (the letters represent his winning credentials), cool at home, already semi-retired at the age of 4 Had done Best air to say hello to himself, he did not run at all, but deliberately moved forward at full speed, his luxurious locks fluttering like wheat flying in a gust of wind.

Don’t rush into Pekingese. If there is one thing about Wasabi, it is that you are not its boss. “If I throw away a toy for him, he’ll take it, but he won’t bring it back,” said David Fitzpatrick, Wasby’s breeder, handler and co-owner. “He knows I’m going to get it for him.”

Wasabi was the country’s top dog in 2021 and won nearly 50 of the best in-show wins under his collar. With his Westminster title, he excelled at the 2019 American Kennel Club National Championship and last year’s Morris & Essex Kennel Club Dog Show, an event that takes place every five years. Human participants dress up. Apparel of the early 20th century. All three titles have really made Wasabi a rare dog, equal to the Grand Slam winner in tennis.

But she rarely spent that time wearing a teenage tire or holding a Miss America-style championship across the country. Wasabi’s life is exactly the same as before, a non-stop schedule of sleeping, eating, jumping, walking and leaning. If he seems to have changed a lot, then the reason is that winning Westminster is more fortunate than winning.

A top dog can get some free food – Fitzpatrick, 65, is Purina’s Pro Plan brand ambassador, meaning it collects points that can be exchanged for food discounts and other benefits. But no money is exchanged in Westminster unless we are talking about the competitor’s transportation, grooming, feeding and housing costs. And unlike horse racing, the winners pay a lot of stud fees, or nothing at all.

Still, Wasabi has raised six dogs. (Fitzpatrick brought two of them out in a small bouquet of flowers. He refused to comment because he was only a few weeks old, but briefly opened his eyes.) Dog flawless stock Comes from: Her grandfather Malaki won the best show at Westminster in 2012 Her nephew, Fortune Cookie, is taking part in the show this year.

Even when he was a child, just a small piece of emotional fluff, Wasby’s destiny was for big things.

“I knew him when he was 4 months old,” said Fitzpatrick. “It simply came to our notice then. The attitude of ‘Hey, look at me.’ ۔

Not everyone immediately appreciates Peking’s subtlety. When they are resting on the ground, they can resemble magnificent spreading hair. Their flowing fur, which rises from their tails to a peak and then falls down, is a way to blur their legs, so it looks like they are moving through levitation instead of prombulation. ۔ Their little faces give nothing.

During last year’s show, social media commentators compared Wasabi to, among other things, a “Treble, Furby and Cousin It” from “The Adams Family.” New York Magazine called it “a beautiful cotton ball.”

“People always make fun of Pekingese – ‘Why is your dog so lazy?’ Or, ‘Your dog looks like a mop,’ “Fitzpatrick said.” People will say the right things to me. ” I say, ‘You won’t appreciate any packaging. He has been appealing to people of good taste for hundreds of years. It just goes over their heads. “

Other competitors ran enthusiastically in the ring last year. Wasabi was taken into the arms of Fitzpatrick, who was entitled to an emperor. But Patricia Craig Trotter, the show’s best judge, was quick to point out the dog’s condition.

“It simply came to our notice then. According to the show’s rules – that the winner is the dog that best suits the best version of its breed – Wasby was the runaway champion.

Part of that was how closely he adhered to Pekingese standards, his pear-shaped body, stunning coffin, high tail, clever Leonine face, sloping gait, and his front half more than the previous half. The peak with the heavy approaches the pack. Trotter said he really resembled a “little lion”, meaning race.

And was part of a real champion. Trotter said that Wasabi has a confident charisma, a formal influence that speaks of the great beginning of his generation in imperial China many centuries ago.

“It’s not just a small jumping ball of fur,” he added. “This little generation was honored in a Chinese court, and it signaled to me that it had that kind of dignity.”

Fitzpatrick said he told Pekingese to refuse to beg for his high spirits and attention, to humiliate himself for treatment, to bring sticks, to herd cattle, to run for help, to perform acts of agility or whatever. Prefer to do something that suggests “working for a living.” put it.

“The Spaniels are desperate, they’re clinging, they’re laying their hands on you,” he said in response. “Golden Recovery – they’re always there, and they make great pets, but that’s not the kind of mood I like. I wouldn’t like that in anyone.”

On the contrary, he said, “Wasby is trained to be a loving dog. He will come when he is called, but otherwise he does nothing but walk on the lead. I do not want that. Let my dogs do something but enjoy their little life.

Dan Sears, editor-in-chief of ShowSite Magazine, which covers the world of dog shows, said it takes some skill to recognize what made Pekingese great.

“I have to admit, the Pekingese are a race I don’t fully understand,” he said. “When a dog has short legs and lots of hair, you and I just notice that it looks like a ball of hair.

“But I met David and sat on the floor and played with his dogs, and they are 100% dogs,” he continued. “They can wander and run around and jump and be fun and funny. They’re definitely more dogs than we think.”

By the end of the tour, it was clear that Wasabi was his own dog. Like most successful celebrities, he offers a charming combination of intimacy and mystery, and reveals himself so much to keep fans hungry. One minute he is rolling on his back, his claws fluttering happily in the air. Next, he lies on the ground, muttering, “I want to be alone,” behind the thick curtain of his hair.

“He likes it when people come. He thinks everyone is here to see him,” said Fitzpatrick. “He doesn’t have to win a dog show to feel special. He always feels special. “

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