Poodle perfection: Siba wins best in show at Westminster

Westminster_Dog_Show_96696 A komondor competes during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_74745 Addie, a komondor, competes with the working group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Westminster_Dog_Show_75165 Dogs compete in the working group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
APTOPIX_Westminster_Dog_Show_63587 Siba, the standard poodle, competes for Best in Show during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
APTOPIX_Westminster_Dog_Show_33143 Siba, the standard poodle, competes for Best in Show during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Siba, the standard poodle, competes for Best in Show during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Siba the standard poodle poses for photos after winning Best in Show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Westminster_Dog_Show_69391 Daniel, the golden retriever, wins the sporting group during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_17010 Daniel, the golden retriever, wins the sporting group during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_68769 Siba, the standard poodle, and Crystal Murray-Clas, left, pose for photographs after winning Best in Show in the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_03654 Bourbon, the whippet, competes during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_79153 Siba, the standard poodle, poses for photographs after winning Best in Show in the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Westminster_Dog_Show_72750 Bono, the Havanese, competes during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Primped and poised, Siba the standard poodle owned the ring.

Even with the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting for a popular golden retriever, the statuesque Siba strutted off with best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club on Tuesday night.

Adorned with black puffs and pompoms, the 3-year-old Siba was the absolute picture of what many see as the epitome of a show dog.

Not everyone shared that view. As judge Bob Slay studied Siba in the best-of-seven final ring, a fan shouted out: “No way, Slay, no way!”

Slay stuck by what he saw.

“She’s beautiful and has that something,” handler Chrystal Murray-Clas said.

Bourbon the whippet finished second. Daniel the golden retriever was clearly the crowd favorite — a golden has never won at Westminster — and fans chanted his name as Slay deliberated.

Bono the Havanese, Wilma the boxer, Conrad the Shetland sheepdog, and Vinny the wire fox terrier also made the final grouping.

Poodles come in three sizes and this was the 10th time one of them has become America’s top dog, the first since 2002. A standard last won in 1991.

Siba put on an entertaining performance in the nonsporting group juding Monday night, doing the downward dog yoga pose before circling the ring. A day later, she was again at her best.

She won’t get much rest, either. Siba was set to wake up early to hit the morning TV shows, eat lunch at famed Manhattan restaurant Sardi’s, pose on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and perhaps walk onto the stage at Broadway musical “Beetlejuice.”

The Westminster winner receives no prize money in a sport where owners can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their pet. Instead, the reward is a silver bowl, lucrative breeding rights and a lifetime of bragging rights in dog lore.

And in canine competitions, the poodles often rule.

But this is true, too: In the world of dogdom, among all the beagles, retrievers and terriers, there’s nothing that polarizes people like a poodle.

Especially the big standard size, with their fancy coifs that would put the supermodels now in town for Fashion Week to shame.

“I don’t care for the cut. I understand it’s for function, to keep their joints warm, but not for me,” Carol Sebastian of Aberdeen, New Jersey, said earlier in the day.

Sitting with four of her spinone Italiano pals, snacking near Ring 1, Sebastian offered another view on the pooch pageant.

“I think if they cut the poodle in a different way, they’d have a lot more fans. They’d get beyond frou-frou.”

Either way, Siba sure looks the part of the Park Avenue crowd, even though she’s from Allentown, Pennsylvania —–— sleek, with shiny black hair and a shaved backside.

“I always say, don’t let the haircut fool you. This is a smart, athletic, active dog that was originally developed in Germany as a water retrieving dog,” longtime dog expert David Frei said.

With a more simple trim, he figured, “the world could unabashedly root for them. In the meantime, I will anyway.”

Poodles come in three sizes, and they’ve done just fine at Westminster. Standards have won best in show five times, miniatures three and toys twice.

Siba was showing for the last time, set to retire after this event.

“She had the something extra at a young age,” Murray-Clas said.

Longtime handler Clint Livingston said he saw Siba two years ago at a show in York, Pennsylvania, and predicted a great future.

“I fell in love with her,” Livingston said.

He also understands the poodle predicament.

“They’ve been glamorized and for them, it’s a beauty pageant,” he said. “But underneath all that hair and everything, there’s structure and function.”

To Sebastian and her spinone Italiano friends, there are two sides to the poodles.

“They’re beautiful dogs and super smart. There’s something for everyone,” said Andi Gabler from Fredricksburg, Virginia. “They’re wonderful dogs. But would I want one? No.”

“Our dogs like to roll in the mud,” chimed in Becky Tevis from Portland, Oregon. “We’re not that fancy.”

Fact is, neither is Siba. A picky eater, she’s not.

So how did she prepare for the nonsporting group judging Monday night at the Garden? A gourmet meal? Nope.

Rather, a fast-food fix: a grilled chicken sandwich from a handy McDonald’s.

And no reason to change the winning formula.

Tuesday night, Siba went back for what became a most happy meal.

___

AP freelance writer Ginger Tidwell-Walker contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Siba, the standard poodle, poses for photographs after winning Best in Show in the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
Siba, the standard poodle, competes for Best in Show during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
A komondor competes during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
A Spinone Italiano competes during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York (AP/John Minchillo)
A Great Dane yawns in the working group competition during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
A miniature bull terrier competes during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
Bourbon, the whippet, wins second place in the Best in Show competition during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP/John Minchillo)
Thor the bulldog naps before competition at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in New York. Thor most recently won the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show in November 2019. (AP/Mark Lennihan)
Bono the Havanese poses with handler Taffe McFadden on the way to a best of breed win at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Bono finished second overall in the event last year. (AP/Ginger Tidwell-Walker)
A Lhasa Apso competes during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in New York. (AP/Mark Lennihan)
A handler with a Yorkshire terrier waits on the sidelines before participating in the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 in New York City. The 144th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show brings more than 200 breeds and varieties of dog into New York City for the competition that began Saturday and ends Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden with the naming of this year’s Best in Show. (Getty Images/Stephanie Keith)
A Chinese crested dog is judged during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show on February 10, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images/Stephanie Keith)
Baker, a Tibetan Terrier, is ready to compete in the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in New York. (AP/Mark Lennihan)
A Rough Collie competes at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in New York. (AP/Wong Maye-E)
A Pulik looks up at its handler at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in New York. (AP/Wong Maye-E)
Old English sheepdogs compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in New York. (AP/Wong Maye-E)
Azawakhs compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in New York. The Azawakh is a new breed to the Westminster show this year. (AP/Wong Maye-E)
Ghost, a Norwegian buhund, competes at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Ghost is also a therapy dog that makes weekly visits to a Delaware hospital with his owner, Patricia Faye Adcox. (AP/Jennifer Peltz)
An old English sheepdog competes at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in New York. (AP/Wong Maye-E)
Tag, a Labrador retriever weaves, through a series of poles during Westminster Kennel Club’s agility competition Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Pink the border collie leaps through a course obstacle en route to winning the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility title Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. Pink’s win extends an all-but sweep for border collies in agility’s seven years at Westminster, save for an Australian shepherd’s 2016 win. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Pink the border collie competes next to handler Jennifer Crank on the way to winning the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility title Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Handler Andrea Samuels holds the first-place ribbon that Gabby, a papillon, won in the 8-inch division of the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility competition Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Mason the Dalmatian leaps in an obstacle course during Westminster Kennel Club’s agility competition, Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Dog handler Grace Buzanoski runs with her golden retriever Punk through an obstacle course during the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility competition, Saturday Feb. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Liberty, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, and owner Marcia Lyons of Seattle get ready to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility championship in New York, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. The retrievers, known as “tollers,” aren’t too common in the sport, but “I like to be a little different,” Lyons said. (AP/Jennifer Peltz)
Niner, a pug, relaxes after competing in the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility championship in New York on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Handler Dan Webster of Minneapolis calls her “a supermodel pug who happens to do agility.” (AP/Jennifer Peltz)
Valkyrie, a Bedlington terrier, and owner JoAnn Burtness of Louisburg, N.C., relax after competing in the Westminster Kennel Club’s agility championship in New York on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP/Jennifer Peltz)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 photo, Aliya Taylor shows an Azawakh at the Westminster Dog Show preview in New York. Competition begins Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 with the agility event that’s open to mutts and everyone else. (AP/Jennifer Peltz)
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