He hails from Holland, looks a little like a monkey, but is all dog—all 6 pounds of him. He’s Banana Joe, a 5-year-old black Affenpinscher who became the first of the breed to take the title of Best in Show at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
“I just thanked him. I remember just looking down at him like ‘you did it,’”said his handler, Ernesto Lara.
Joe, as he’s called for short, beat out 6 other furry finalists at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
“What makes the difference in the end is a dog with personality, pizazz, owns the ground they stand over,” said David Frei, the voice of the prestigious Westminster Dog Show for the past 24 years.
Joe celebrated his big win with steak served on a silver platter at the famous theater district celebrity hangout Sardi’s. He continued his victory tour with a visit to the Empire State Building and a cameo appearance in the Broadway show “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”
He’ll use his paws to ring the opening bell Thursday morning at the New York Stock Exchange.
Like many Westminster champs before him, Banana Joe will be retiring. He’ll be going back to The Netherlands where he was born and raised. And it’s bound to be a bittersweet goodbye for his handler, who was the dog’s constant companion for 3 years.
“Once you become his friend he gives you his heart,” Lara said. “It’s very heartbreaking to let him go.”