There are a number of problems with dog shows, but what they all boil down to is that they're trying to decide which of the dogs is the best in the show. Why can't all the good dogs get a ribbon? It's the only place where a participation trophy would be agreed upon by all.
This brings us to this year's Westminster Dog Show. Held, for some reason, during the week and not adjacent to any other major televised events, you could be forgiven for not having realized it was happening. But what's on a ton of people's hearts and minds right now is Daniel, the Golden Retriever who was up for the top doggy prize.
#DanielWasRobbed was the hashtag trending on Twitter, and if you're wondering why anyone would rob anything from a pooch, you're not alone. The way dog shows work, for those who aren't familiar, is that dogs are generally grouped by their breed's historical/cultural reasons for existing. Dog breeds with a history of hunting are in the Sporting group, a bunch of sheepdogs are in the Herding group, and so on and so forth. The dogs who are the best representation of their breed win their group, which ipso facto makes that breed the best representation of their group.
Daniel the Golden Retriever (full name: GCHP CH HILLOCK'S JACK DANIEL'S RA JH CA RATN CGC) was the best of his group, Sporting, and would go on to compete against the other group winners for Best in Show. The winner was this black poodle named Siba (full name: GCHP CH STONE RUN AFTERNOON TEA). By the by, in case you were wondering what those smatterings of letters mean in their long names, they're like abbreviated titles based on their status in the show dog world, sort of like if Michael Phelps' legal name was changed to Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps.
Anyway, Daniel was just incredible at Westminster. He carried his blue ribbon around in his mouth like a retriever might carry a duck back to a hunter. He gave his owner a hug. Look at this!
People were cheering for Daniel in Madison Square Garden like teenage girls seeing the Beatles for the first time. He'd won the crowd. Westminster had a people's champion on their hands. Not to take anything away from Siba, but damn, Daniel. Ultimately, the judges decided that Siba was better at being a Standard Poodle than Daniel was at being a Golden Retriever. People were stunned, and the internet is incensed. The crowd was even chanting Daniel's name.
What made Daniel particularly special was that this was the first time in the 144 year history of the Westminster Dog Show that a Golden Retriever had made it to the finals. A Daniel victory would've been a bigger and more historic moment than the Cubs winning the World Series. There's a good chance Daniel will be back next year. He's still young (for a show dog), and has some competitive years left in him. But even if he doesn't, he can rest easy knowing that the internet and more importantly, his family, love him very much.