Star the Bulldog Wins Best in Show at the 2022 AKC National Championship
An English bulldog who reigns over her family also ruled the red carpet last month at the 2022 American Kennel Club National Championship presented by Royal Canin.
Star—registered name GCHG CH Cherokee Legend Encore—took home the Best in Show honor over more than 5,300 other dogs who entered the conformation show in Orlando, Fla. The competition was held Dec. 17 and 18 before the broadcast debuted Sunday afternoon on ABC.
It had already been a successful week for 3-year-old Star, who'd performed well in some local shows leading up to the national championship, but that didn't prevent the surprise her owners felt when Best in Show judge Desmond Murphy picked her.
"It's an out-of-body experience," one of her owners, Kevin Mason, tells Daily Paws. "Did that really just happen?"
"I felt like I couldn't breathe," says Natalie Mason, another of Star's owners—who's married to Kevin. (The bulldog's other owner is Alaina Moulton, and Star was bred by Cody Sickle, Sherry Hazelett, and Connie Chambers.)
Besting thousands of other dogs is impressive enough, but Star had to surpass some high-caliber competition to win the $50,000 prize. After winning her breed, she captured the Non-Sporting Group over Winston, the French bulldog who won the National Dog Show during a dominant 2022.
Then, she earned Murphy's nod over Trumpet, the Westminster-winning bloodhound who'd won the Hound Group. Five other dogs made the Best in Show ring: Stache the Sealyham terrier (Terrier Group); Josie the Spinone Italiano (Sporting); Clark the Havanese (Toy); Mercedes the German shepherd (Herding); and Bogart the standard schnauzer who won the Working Group and Reserve Best in Show (second place).
Weirdly, Natalie Mason says, Star seems to know how to turn it on when she and handler Dennis O'Connor advance to the group and Best in Show rounds. That's when she glides across the carpet and becomes the center of attention.
"It's almost like she knows what she's supposed to be doing," Natalie says.
The same goes for when she's at home with the Mason family in the Atlanta suburbs. That's where, her owners admit, she's the queen, sunbathing and tennis ball-chasing when she's not occasionally pushing her parents' buttons. (She's still a bulldog after all.)
"She owns the house," Kevin says.
Like other show dogs, she's a regular pet at home who loves some snuggle time. And like other parents, the Masons consulted their two daughters to name the bulldog. Their younger daughter offered up Star.
"Gosh, it couldn't fit her any better," Natalie says.
We—and more than a few dog show judges—would have to agree.