Westminster Dog Show Winner Becomes Overnight Celebrity
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Robert Siegel talks to David Frei about the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show and the winning pup, Banana Joe.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
While Senator Marco Rubio was delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union, some networks arranged dial sessions. Viewers rated the speech phrase by phrase with handheld devices, registering what they liked or didn't like. The usual algorithms formed at least a pseudo-social scientific appraisal of the speaker. Over on another cable channel, another vital appraisal was in the works, minus high-tech devices. Michael Dougherty was looking over seven dogs, deciding which would be named top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
MICHAEL DOUGHERTY: Tonight's best-in-show winner for the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the affenpinscher.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
DAVID FREI: Banana Joe.
SIEGEL: That was the voice of David Frei, spokesman for the Westminster Kennel Club and also the man who does the play-by-play on television every year, talking about Banana Joe, the affenpinscher who won best in show. Affenpinschers weigh about six and a half pounds. This one is all black. They're terriers. They come from Germany. And one of Banana Joe's first perks as best in show at Westminster was the traditional day-after lunch at Sardi's. And that's where we caught up with Mr. Frei and also with Banana Joe.
FREI: You know, he loves being the world's newest single-name celebrity, and he's handled it very well. Now, here we are at Sardi's for the annual steak on a silver platter that goes to the Westminster winner, served by the owner, Max Klimavicius.
SIEGEL: Does being America's dog mean that now lots and lots of people are going to buy affenpinschers, and that there's going to be a boom in affenpinschers on the sidewalks of New York and elsewhere?
FREI: Well, they're a wonderful little breed, and the fact that the world has seen him on television or on our website, or on our social media and walking down the streets of New York where this morning, you know, people are hollering at him: Hey, Joe. Hey, Joe, we saw you last night. And, sure, we think people are going to investigate about the breed, but we caution everybody, don't get a dog just because it's the latest winner on Westminster or because it looks good on "Frasier" or some other sitcom.
You've got to make sure it matches your lifestyle, and we hope that responsible breeders out there will help educate the public about what this breed is all about.
SIEGEL: You know, I've been reading some of the American Kennel Club standards for the affenpinscher, and when it comes to gait, they said light, free, sound, balanced, confident. The affenpinscher carries itself with comic seriousness. It sounds like a very complex mission, a very serious mission for a dog to pull off.
FREI: Well, he pulled it off last night in the show ring, and I'm sure he pulls it off every day at home as well. But, you know, this is a dog that's really supposed to be able to - to be a - they're almost terrier-like in their mission in terms of being a ratter or being a mouser or just watching out for pests and things. But, yeah, he's come off that way all day long. It's the first time I've been able to spend a lot of time with him myself, and I can see why Michael Dougherty would have loved this dog.
SIEGEL: It means monkey-like terrier, I guess, and some of the standards say that he should have a - well, he should have a head that is carried confidently with monkey-like facial expression.
FREI: That's our boy. Now, he's carrying that head with that great confidence now as well, and he's just now popping that head up because Max Klimavicius has just walking here with a pile - with a plate full of steak.
SIEGEL: David Frei, congratulations on another big show and nice talking with you.
FREI: Thank you very much. We're very excited about this win and this winner and about our show as we continue to - with our 137th dog show this year. So we're having a great time. Thanks, Robert, for having me on.
SIEGEL: That's David Frei at Sardi's earlier today with the affenpinscher Banana Joe. Last night, Joe was named best in show at the 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
FREI: Eighty-five best in shows, here's number 86. How about that? All right, Joey. And what a nice win, too, for the Old English Sheepdog, for swagger. Serious ribbonage.
(SOUNDBITE OF LED ZEPPELIN SONG "BLACK DOG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.View this story on npr.org