A golden retriever captured the heart of the internet on Tuesday -- but not the hearts of the Westminster Kennel Club judges. Now the internet says Daniel the golden retriever was robbed.
Five-year-old Daniel was the crowd favorite at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday: His performance reportedly had those in attendance at Madison Square Garden chanting his name, and his ultimate loss to fellow competitor Siba the standard poodle drew ire online.
Originally from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, Daniel's name trended on Twitter as fans shared photos of him carrying a prize-winning ribbon in his mouth.
"I think it's awesome that everyone loves him," Karen Mammano, Daniel's professional handler, told NBC. Mammano and Daniel had been competing together for more than two years.
"Daniel has truly turned into America's dog. He is a good dog, and everyone loves a good dog," she said.
In the 143-year history of the Westminster Dog Show, a retriever has never won Best In Show, and it seemed like this year might be different. But even though the crowd loved the happy and lovable Daniel, it was not enough to convince the judges that he was tops.
The Best in Show ribbon was given instead to Siba, a standard poodle. Daniel and Mammano placed third overall in the competition, leaving some to say that Daniel was "robbed."
For the Golden Retriever Club of America, Daniel was still a winner.
“We were all on the edge of our seats with excitement and so proud of how Daniel represented our breed,” the organization said.
"He will go into semi-retirement," Tammy Tomlinson, Daniel's owner told NBC. She said there are few more things to achieve with Daniel.
"Daniel has exceeded every expectation. He is one of the winningest golden retrievers ever," she said. Tomlinson has been breeding golden retrievers for 40 years, and Daniel is her winningest dog.
The retriever won first place in the sporting category to qualify for the Best In Show, where the winner of each category would compete for the big prize.
Grand Champion Hillock’s Jack Daniels or “Daniel,” charmed the crowd with his smiles, constantly wagging tail and beautiful fur coat.
“Temperament is very important in a golden retriever -- a dog has to be friendly, trustworthy, and happy," said Chris Miele, vice president of the Golden Retriever Club of America. Miele is a breeder, agility competitor and owner of several golden retrievers.
"Throughout the competition, Daniel’s tail was wagging,” Miele said.
According to the American Kennel Club, the standards for golden retrievers require them to be active, have a kind expression and a personality that is eager, alert and self-confident. Daniel appeared to be the only dog in the competition to hug his handler after the pair won the sporting category.
Siba, meanwhile, is the fifth poodle to win Best in Show. Second place, called Reserve Best In Show, went to Bourbon, a whippet.
Daniel the golden retriever is still a champion, winning Best in Show 19 times in other competitions around the country as well as 26 specialty wins, including the 2019 National Specialty Best of Breed winner, according to his owner.