NEW YORK - A stately looking Scottish Deerhound beat the breed favored by President Barack Obama and a crowd pleasing Cocker Spaniel to snap up top dog honors Tuesday at New York's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Hickory, with her breed's characteristic lanky legs, loping trot, goatee beard and wolfish grey coat, was the surprise Best in Show winner at the end of the two-day canine beauty contest in Manhattan.
She beat six other finalists that included a Portuguese Water Dog -- the breed picked by Obama as his White House pet -- a fluffy Pekingese and a black Cocker Spaniel popular with the public at the Madison Square Garden arena.
"It's just the thrill of a lifetime," handler Angela Lloyd said after her dog's win. She said dog show aficionados "dream of this day their whole entire lives and here we are."
A total of 2,626 four-legged beauties, representing 179 breeds, chased the elusive Best in Show title. This was the first time a Scottish Deerhound has won the annual competition, which started in 1877.
A cute Fox Terrier with its long face colored black on one side and white on the other seemed to be among the finalists with a better chance of taking the crown won last year by Sadie, a long-haired black Scottish Terrier. The Westminster show has historically leant toward terriers.
Small dogs, including the Pekingese, which looked like a shaggy fur boot, are often backed by the crowd.
Hickory was set to retire from shows and turn to breeding after her Manhattan triumph. But not before the traditional visits by the Best in Show winner to morning television shows and the top of the Empire State Building.
Image: John Ashbey / via Westminster Kennel Club