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Westminster Dog Show: Beagle advances, will it win?

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Mary Altaffer/AP

(Read caption) Miss P, a beagle, is shown in the rink during the hound competition at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Miss P won best hound.

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Hound lovers, it’s true – a beagle is still in the running to win "Best in Show" at the famed Westminster Dog Show.

Miss P, a 15-inch beagle out of a kennel in British Columbia, Canada, took the Hound Group honors on Monday. She’ll compete with a shih tzu, a standard poodle, and an English sheepdog named Swagger, among other dogs, for top honors on Tuesday night.

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Miss P, whose registered name is “Tashtins Lookin For Trouble,” triumphed over another crowd favorite, Nathan the bloodhound, to grab group honors. Sorry Nathan. Maybe one of the judges had bad childhood memories about McGruff the Crime Dog.

She’s the descendent of beagle royalty, as she’s the grandniece of Uno, the first and so far only beagle to ever win Westminster. Didn’t know there is such a thing as beagle royalty? Don’t worry, they don’t either – after Uno's 2008 triumph my own two beagles celebrated by snoring a bit louder from their perches on top of the back of the sofa.

Informed of Miss P’s win on Tuesday morning, these house beagles responded by not pausing a millisecond while devouring breakfast. At the moment they are back on those sofa cushions, sleeping off the excitement.

Uno’s win stands as a beacon, not just for beaglekind, but for normal dogs in general. Westminster seems dominated by breeds bred for show, not for petting. No Labrador has ever won – maybe they try too hard. Dalmatian, ditto. Chihuahuas are perhaps too small for the judges to see. Dachshunds are too busy looking for a bigger dog to try and bully. They’ve never won either.

Last year’s winner was a wire-haired fox terrier, which is a normal sort of dog – if you live in a 1930s detective movie. Before that it was an affenpinscher, which you won’t spot at the neighborhood play park.

Actually, the historical breed records for wins are pretty interesting. The real story seems to be that a relatively small number of breeds dominate Westminster’s Best in Show award. Of 192 breeds entered this year, only 47 have ever won. So Labradors, et al., are not alone.

Yet the wire-haired fox terrier has won an astonishing 14 times. (Lots of those were a long time ago, to be fair.) The Scottish terrier has won eight times. The English springer spaniel has won six.

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On the other end of the spectrum, 25 breeds have only won once. A pug won in 1981, for instance. (His full name was “Dhandys Favorite Woodchuck,” one of our all-time favorites.)

A whippet has one win. So does a clumber spaniel. And a beagle.

Maybe Miss P will make it two.