Thor beat out more than 1,900 dogs to take best in show at the show presented by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. With his adorable waddle and Winston Churchill looks, the dog won over the judges and the fans— although his selection was a surprise to his handler. He tipped over from a crouch when Thor was named the overall winner.
It’s also a big victory for all the bulldog lovers in the country — the breed is the fifth most popular in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. (No. 1? Labs, America’s favorite dog for more than two decades.)
Thor, a 2-year-old male, is already a champion on the professional dog circuit with several best-of-shows to his name, but this win makes him the star of the most popular dog show in the world. More than 20 million people (and, no doubt, their favorite canine buddies) spend two hours of their Thanksgiving curled up on the couch watching their favorite breeds skip across the screen.
The broadcast, now in its 18th year, airs right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and is arguably the most family-friendly portion of the day. Everybody loves dogs, right? So much better than arguing about politics.
Modeled after Christopher Guest’s movie “Best in Show,” the Philadelphia canine contest was supposed to be a one-time experiment to boost sagging midday ratings on Thanksgiving. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia, which has been hosting dog shows since 1876, agreed to participate with NBC, and Purina signed up as lead sponsor.
It succeeded beyond all expectations, drawing millions of viewers of all ages from the first year. The show is hosted by dog expert Frei and actor-dog lover John O’Hurley, best known for playing J. Peterman on “Seinfeld.” The goal is to showcase purebreds and help viewers understand their history, personalities and temperaments when deciding which breed (or mix) is best for their families.
This year’s finalists — seven dogs who won the best of their group — included Thor, who won the non-sporting group. The show runner-up was GCHP Oestes in the Name of Love, a Havanese representing the toy group who is currently ranked No. 1 show dog in the world. The other five were a golden retriever (sporting), a pharaoh hound (hound), a Siberian husky (working), a soft-coated wheaten terrier (terrier), and an old English sheepdog (herding).
Need more hunky bulldog in your life? Thor and his handler, Eduardo Paris, will appear on the “Today” show Friday morning.