06182023

Westminster Dog Show: Striker the Samoyed Enjoys Retirement

Going into the best in show competition, Ralsky and Pacht were nervous wrecks.

“I had a couple of Aperol spritzes,” said Ralsky.

“I had quite a few,” said Pacht.

“It’s like getting to the final of the U.S. Open,” said Ralsky.

When Striker came out, the crowd went wild for his cloudlike majesty and for the amusing way his tongue stuck out as he romped around the ring. He looked happy to be there, which is more than you can say for some dogs. “Everyone was screaming and cheering,” said Ralsky. “He was perfection.”

“Everyone loves a Sammy,” Pacht said.

The best in show judge in 2022, Donald G. Sturz, said in an interview that he successfully insulated himself from the crowd’s noise as he considered the dogs before him. Though he found Striker to be “gorgeous,” he said that the eventual winner, a majestically wrinkled bloodhound named Trumpet, “gave me goose bumps.”

“He stepped out and planted his feet and stood there proudly and looked at me as if to say, ‘There you go,’” said Sturz, who is now the Westminster Kennel Club president. “And I thought, That’s my winner.”

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