Daniel the Golden Retriever Wins the Internet, If Not Westminster’s Best in Show

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Daniel, the golden retriever, wins the sporting group during 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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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.

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COMMON ITEMS YOU CAN DONATE


  • Towels and blankets - Shelters are often cold and animals like to have a blanket to curl up on. Towels are a big help to dry animals off after being bathed or if they come in wet. Towels can also be used to line the bottoms of cages. The towels or blankets don't have to be brand new or in perfect condition. The animals won't mind, as long as they're usable.
  • Canned and Dry Food for Cats and Dogs-Healthy - Healthy pet options for nourishment
  • Kitty litter and cat boxes - Cats go to the bathroom- a lot. Shelters are constantly using bag after bag of litter. Their supply runs out fast.
  • Puppy or kitten formula and nursing bottles - Sometimes there are situations where a young puppy or kitten who is not weaned gets separated from their mother. In these situations they need puppy or kitten formula to survive.
  • Old newspaper - When you're done with your newspapers you usually just throw them away or recycle them, right? You could help animals at no cost to you if you just save up your old newspapers. Newspapers are used in the bottoms of cages. They get soiled quickly, so they're in constant demand.
  • Collars, harnesses, and leashes - Dogs who are taken out on walks need a leash and collar or harness. The shelter loses some because adopted dogs often go home with their leash or harness.
  • Grooming supplies - Grooming supplies can include shampoo, brushes, combs, haircutting scissors, etc. Dogs and cats often come in dirty or end up getting dirty. Grooming supplies can keep them fresh, clean, and adoptable.
  • Toys - You would get bored if you had to lay in a crate alone all day, wouldn't you? Animals in shelters get bored, too. It keeps the animals from being so lonely and bored and allows them to get exercise. You could go out and buy new toys, or you could donate toys your pets or children may have not gotten much use out of. It's as simple as that.
  • Crates and carriers - Animals need to be transported somehow, and the cost of multiple crates and carriers can add up quickly. You can donate ones you stopped using that are still in good condition or you could go buy one for a decent price. This helps the shelter tremendously.
  • Paper towels and cleaning supplies - There are a lot of situations that get messy, so paper towels are a big help.
  • Hand wash and hand sanitizer - People who work at shelters need to keep their hands clean for their and the animals' health.
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach - Towels and blankets get soiled often so the washing machines are being used a lot
  • Dog and cat beds - this can offer the animals a soft place to lay instead of a kennel or cage floor.
  • Heating pads - Many animals come in cold or are young and need warmth. Heating pads can replace a mother's warmth.
  • Copy paper and pens, pencils, post-it notes and staples - You can't forget about all the paperwork that has to be done. Donating these items makes it so the shelter doesn't have to buy them on their own.
  • Garbage bags, mops, brooms, and sponges - The shelter uses these every day and clean up supplies can get expensive.
  • Food bowls - As new animals come in, the shelter needs new places to put food. Having an adequate supply could mean life or death for an animal in a shelter.
  • Rubber and latex gloves - A lot of messy stuff happens and gloves are necessary to lessen the spread of germs.
  • Plastic shopping bags - Plastic bags can be used to clean up dog mess and to store things in.

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