National Dog Show 2022: Winston the Top-ranked French Bulldog Wins Best in Show
Winston, easily the No. 1-ranked dog in the country this year, beat out hundreds of other dogs at the 21st edition of the National Dog Show. It was held this past weekend at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center before the Thanksgiving broadcast on NBC.
Best in Show judge Vicki Seiler-Cushman said Winston, whose registered name is GCHP CH Fox Canyon's I Won The War At Goldshield CGCA CGCU TKN, displayed confidence and verve in the final ring.
"He is a show dog with personality and beauty and a perfect fit for the breed," she said in a news release. "He has a razzle-dazzle that says 'I am here to win tonight.' You can just tell that he can also go home and be the perfect pet."
Winston, whose ownership group includes Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Morgan Fox, has so far collected 78 Best in Shows at only 3 years old, a staggering amount for the attention-loving pup.
"I have never experienced anything like this," his handler, Perry Payson, tells Daily Paws.
How Winston Won
The National Dog Show is arguably (we see you, Westminster) the most famous dog show in the United States. Some 2,000 dogs enter each year, and the Thanksgiving broadcast reaches about 20 million viewers. So it draws some good-looking dogs—aka stiff competition, even for a dog as accomplished as Winston.
"This is going to be a challenge," Payson was thinking.
He first had to win his breed, convincing a judge he met the French bulldog breed standard better than all the other Frenchies. Then it was on to the Non-Sporting Group, facing the 20 other dogs who won their breeds.
The group judging is held in the main ring, the one with audience seating set up for the television broadcast. The crowd had some juice—more than usual, people told Payson. He compared it to a crowd at a football game.
"When he entered that room, he felt that," he says. "I felt it on the lead."
Feeding off that energy, Winston posed for judge Valeria Rickard and pranced under inspection as the crowd applauded. When Rickard picked him, he sprinted forward in excitement. But the toughest test was still to come.
The Best in Show ring—seven dogs who won both their breeds and their groups—is the best of the best. Payson knows each would've made a worthy winner as he prepared to take Winston out, pockets full of Winston's favorite bait: a squeaker toy, thinly sliced steak, and butterfly pork chops. (Pro tip from Payson: White meat doesn't crumble like darker meat.)
You know the rest. Seiler-Cushman chose Winston, and Payson hoisted him into the air in celebration.
"Oh my god, it was incredible," Payson says.
Winston—who shares a name with easily the best New Girl character— is the first Frenchie to win Best in Show at the National Dog Show. He earned the victory over these six dogs in the final ring:
- Cooper, the English toy spaniel who won the Toy Group and Reserve Best in Show (second place)
- Sloane, the Irish water spaniel who won the Sporting Group
- Reus, the Alaskan malamute who won the Working Group
- Trouble, the American Staffordshire terrier who won the Terrier Group
- Nate, the Treeing Walker coonhound who won the Hound Group
- River, the German shepherd who won the Herding Group
Winston's ownership group includes Payson, Morgan Fox, Sandy Fox, Alexandra Vorbeck, Alexandra Geremia, and Felicia Cashin.
Winston's Busy Year
Payson has shown Frenchies since the 1980s, but he exclusively works with Winston these days. And that's plenty, seeing as they've spent an estimated 50 days at home in Bixby, Okla., this year.
After some post-show TV appearances, he and Winston will head to Arizona for yet another dog show and to see Fox, whose team plays the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Fox, you may remember, excitedly tweeted along during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this summer. Winston won Reserve Best in Show, second only to Trumpet the bloodhound.
He and Payson plan to return to Westminster this May, so their days in airports certainly aren't over, not that Winston minds. Travelers often stop for photos for some of the same reasons he won Best in Show: He's a handsome dog ready to reciprocate the affection.
"This dog puts a smile on everyone's face," Payson says.
He's a good reminder that show dogs are dogs first. They're performers and athletes, but they love pets and treats like our pups at home. Winston also adores kids, so when a youngster held him for a photo as the show wrapped up Saturday, he was showered in Frenchie kisses.
"This is what this is all about," Payson says.