NEW YORK—If the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is viewed as a beauty pageant for dogs, Malachy, the fluffy Pekingese who won 2012’s Best in Show, is the show’s exiting "Miss" America.
It was just one year ago that Malachy wobbled into Westminster and won the championship. Looking very much like a fur tumbleweed on a leash, the male Pekingese immediately became the dog world’s biggest celebrity. He dined at Sardi’s, visited the Empire State Building and showed up for a photo-op at the New York Stock Exchange, where he was lifted in the air during the opening bell as if he were a fur sacrifice to the finance gods. Donald Trump even tried to buy him—telling his owner/handler David Fitzpatrick that he admired the dog's hair.
Last week, Malachy returned to New York to make one last appearance at Westminster, kicking off a preshow press conference. Ahead of Malachy's wobble across the stage, Fitzpatrick spent several minutes meticulously combing and teasing the dog’s hair, resulting in a look that could only be compared to Linda Evans’ silky blond coif from “Dynasty.”
Afterwards, Malachy collapsed into a fur puddle near the back of a hotel ballroom and watched as reporters swarmed around a new generation of Westminster dogs—including one that had a squeak toy that sounded, suspiciously, it seemed, like his own.
“He lives a quiet life now,” Fitzpatrick said, as he tried to regain Malachy’s attention by squeaking his own toy at him. The dog didn’t show much interest, as he continued to stare down the hound nearby.
“He’s retired. He just hangs out. He has some other little dogs he hangs out with. He has a nice quiet life. We live out in the country,” Fitzpatrick continued. “I barely do anything to him. I groom him once a week.”
For Fitzpatrick, though, the show life goes on. On Monday night at Westminster, many in the crowd at Madison Square Garden gasped when Fitzpatrick entered the ring leading a Pekingese that looked exactly like Malachy. But it wasn’t Malachy; it was the dog’s cousin, Roger. He won Best in Breed and placed third in the Toy Dog division.
Afterwards, Fitzpatrick carried Roger to the podium to be photographed with his ribbon. But before taking the tiny stage, the handler spent several minutes combing and brushing and teasing Roger’s hair, as the dog seemed to fall asleep standing up.
A dog trade magazine reporter approached Fitzpatrick and asked which dog was better, Malachy or Roger.
“I can’t answer that," Fitzpatrick replied. "It's just not fair."