Westminster Dog Show 2021: The Flavor of the Moment Is Wasabi By Andrew Das | New York Times

Wasabi, she said, was a tiny dog “that feels like he’s 10 feet tall.” As she weighed his merits against his breed and his six rivals, Trotter said, “he stood there like a lion.” He was bred to be one. His great- grandfather was a champion. His mother, Sushi, named after Fitzpatrick’s favorite restaurant on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, was a champion Pekingese as well. Wasabi got his name, Fitzpatrick said, when a visiting friend badgered him to name a litter of dogs, a task that, until then, had been set aside. Fine, Fitzpatrick said. They went tossing out sushi-flavored names. Ginger. Wasabi. The latter just stuck, he said.

Wasabi the Pekingese was even more thrilled than his handler, David Fitzpatrick. Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Now 3, Wasabi has enjoyed a sudden rise. He won his first best in show honor in November 2019, and then spent last year competing 96 times — despite the pandemic’s limits and schedule changes. This year, Fitzpatrick said, he competed in only four sets of shows, pacing Wasabi to be ready for Westminster. Nestled late Sunday night at Fitzpatrick’s feet, next to the giant ribbon and the silver bowl presented to the winner, Wasabi had, like his predecessors, the look of a relaxed champion.

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Wasabi, a low-slung Pekingese named through bloodlines for a Michigan sushi restaurant, won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, his long tresses winning out in a field that included a trim whippet, a bushy sheepdog and a blinding white Samoyed that was the top-ranked show dog in the country. Wasabi is the son of a champion Pekingese and the great- grandson of Malachy, the 2012 Best in Show winner who was also bred and shown by Wasabi’s owner and handler, David Fitzpatrick. “I didn’t think lightning would strike twice,” said Fitzpatrick, who has been coming to Westminster since he was a boy and has produced a string of group winners and show- circuit champions. Wasabi’s victory capped a most unusual pandemic year for Westminster and a most unusual show, one forced out of its regular winter window at New York’s Madison Square Garden to a June date on the rolling green lawn of a robber baron’s country estate in suburban Westchester County. The dogs were judged in outdoor rings and competed for group and Best in Show honors inside a giant air- conditioned tent. No spectators were allowed, but that did little to diminish the drama. “It was a show for the ages,” said Patricia Craige Trotter, the judge who picked the winner.

“He has that little something special,” Fitzpatrick said.

Wasabi didn’t spend a lot of time on the ground, but when he did, he made it count. Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times 34

Made with FlippingBook Learn more on our blog