We met up with Malachy, the 2012 Westminster champion, and his owner, David Fitzpatrick, after his meet-and-greet at our Union Square NYC store. During our time together, we talked about grooming, how to look your best at all times, and what fuels a champion (hint: Purina ProPlan!), among many other things:
Q: What happens when you first arrive at a competition? Do the dogs play together or is it all business?
A: We usually let them get settled in and do their business, then start the grooming process, depending on what time they show. The dogs might play together afterwards, but not before the show.
Q: How do you train the dogs to walk across the ring without getting distracted?
A: We train the dogs for the show, but having a squeaky toy or something to keep them focused on you so they don’t get distracted is important.
Q: How long does grooming take for a dog like Malachy?
A: About an hour of grooming daily. At the dog show, a couple of hours a day. When Malachy is in full campaign, it took several hours.
Q: Doesn’t Malachy get hot under all of that hair?
A: Malachy does get hot under all of that hair. The coat does make them warm on occasion, but you have to be careful with the heat and be aware of it. Don’t let them get stressed.
Q: Is Malachy an only child?
A: No. Malachy has a brother who lives in England.
Q: How old will Malachy live to be?
A: We hope that Malachy lives to be at least 15 years old.
Q: Are special needs dogs allowed to compete? My baby has grain allergies and gets sick sometimes, but she’s gorgeous and I’d love to put her in shows.
A: Special needs dogs are definitely allowed. Grain-fee is something the ProPlan team can help you with.
PP: If your dog has a grain allergy, we do have a grain-fee item available that just launched earlier this year. It’s available at Petco.
Q: Does Malachy do any other competitions, like Agility?
A: No. Malachy is quite agile for a Pekingnese, and he likes chasing balls and running around the yard, but he does not compete.
Q: Does Malachy get along with cats?
A: Malachy loves cats.
Q: Will Malachy stay in show coat now that he’s retiring?
A: He will always be in some sot of coat, but he won’t be in the same as Westminster. He should always look fairly beautiful.
Q: Does Malachy ever get scared at shows or events? What do you do to keep him calm?
A: Malachy was never frightened of dog shows, but occasionally you have a dog with fear and training and soothing them is key. Most dogs with show temperaments will move past it.
Q: What are Malachy’s favorite toys?
A: Malachy is pretty fickle with his toys. He likes a constant supply of new toys, and he likes small toys best. He averages between 3-4 new toys a week — whatever is new.
Q: How did you choose Malachy? Do you have dogs from the same breeder?
A: We selected Malachy from a breeder in England in 2008. His breeder showed me several that were very correct little Pekingnese. The breeder had won several other classes and I contacted them after a show.
Q: Does Malachy like chews?
Q: Do you have any other dogs who are currently showing?
A: We do have other dogs. I’m showing Roger, another champion Pekingnese, and this last Thurs. and Fri. I showed Malachy’s grandson, Paddington. He has won two majors and best of breed at the Progressive Dog Club, a dog show exclusively for toy breeds.
Q: How may dogs compete at Westminster?
A: This year there will be 2,700 dogs competing at Westminster.
Q: How do you feel about new breeds being added to the competition this year?
A: We’re very excited about the new breeds. They are really cute breeds and I spent some time with them the other day. We always welcome new breeds.
Q: What traits do you think Malachy will most influence in future generations of Pekingnese?
A: Hopefully he’ll pass on his wonderful temperament, balance, compact body and high tail sit. He has so many wonderful attributes and I hope he passes them all along.
Q: Has success gone to Malachy’s head? Is he a diva now at home?
A: Malachy was already a diva, he didn’t need to win Westminster for that title. He rules the household. He’s more of a king than a diva.
Q: How is Malachy’s breathing? I just adopted a Pekingnese with a very pushed in nose and she snots and breathes a lot shallower than my other Pekes. She is healthy and eats well, just her breathing concerns me.
A: Malachy’s breathing is very good. He has wide open nostrils and his breathing is very good. With your little Pekingnese, just keep her cool.
Q: Has anyone offered to buy Malachy since he won?
A: Donald Trump offered to buy him when we visited him last year after the show. His wife loved Malachy so much but I told him no, Malachy is not for sale.
Q: Who decides who wins Westminster?
A: The judges decide.
Q: Do you get nervous on TV? Have you ever fallen down?
A: I don’t get nervous on television. I haven’t fallen down, but I’ve come close. It’s easy to fall.
Q: How do you learn to be a great handler?
A: I try my best. I started as an apprentice when I was 14. I was obsessed with dogs and dog shows and stuck with it. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
Q: Has anything funny ever happened to you in the ring?
A: Funny things don’t really happen to me, but when a judge tells you have poop on your shoe…I did have a dog that vomited on a judge’s shoe. We said sorry.
Q: How often do you have to give him a bath? Does his fur get matted easily?
A: Malachy doesn’t get matted easily. He gets a bath once a week.
Q: How big is Malachy under the fur? He looks a little bit chunky but it might just be the fur.
A: He’s 11 lbs. under all of that fur.
Q: Do you feed him wet or dry food?
A: Malachy eats ProPlan Focus for small breeds and sometimes he gets some chicken. At shows, he gets a little snack in the morning and his main food after he performs.
Q: Where does Malachy live? Does he get to play outside or indoor only?
A: Malachy lives in East Berlin, PA, out in the country. He’s a country dog. He stays out for many hours a day when the weather is nice. He has five acres to play on.
Watch and see what it’s like backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Want to teach your pup some new tricks? You’re in luck! Purina ProPlan has created a mobile app that puts ProPlan expert training advice in the palm of your hand. Whether you want to teach him basic commands or agility training, Purina ProPlan has it all in one handy app. Get it here.