Wasabi was the hot flavor in June at the world-renowned Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The glorious Pekingese, formally known as Grand Champion Pequest Wasabi, was the Number One show dog of all breeds in 2020. Westminster is always held in February at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This year, because of COVID restrictions, the 145th edition of the show moved outdoors to the Lyndhurst mansion, a Gothic Revival castle that sits in a stately 67-acre park beside the Hudson River in Tarrytown, a half-hour south of the city.

Wasabi was handled as always by breeder-owner David Fitzpatrick, who has dedicated the last 50 years to perfecting this breed. The judge who pointed him to Best in Show was Patricia Craige Trotter, who is equally revered in the dog show world, having won Best in Hound Group at Westminster a record 11 times, handling her own Norwegian Elkhounds. Wasabi had big paws to fill as the great-grandson of “Malachy,” the 2012 Westminster Best in Show winner.

The Pekingese breed has been the companion of royalty for centuries, and in defeating his six rivals in the Best in Show ring, Wasabi “felt like he was 10 feet tall and stood there like a lion,” in the words of judge Trotter.