Four top dogs - a springy German Shepherd, a sleepy borzoi hound, a bulldog and a shih tzu - have advanced to the last round at the Westminster Kennel Club show, and will vie for the top prize in New York on Tuesday.
Rumor, Lucy, Annabelle and Panda entered alongside 2,748 other hounds to reach the final "Best in Show" round at the prestigious contest, now in its 140th year and held at Madison Square Garden.
"She’s definitely in the big-time now," said Kent Boyles, co-owner of three-year-old German Shepherd Rumor, who enjoyed celebratory meaty treats backstage after winning an earlier round on Monday.
Each dog had to become best in their breed, then work their way to the top of a number of groups: hound, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, working and terrier.
Panda, a two-year-old shih tzu, won best of the toy group on Monday. "I thought he was really, really on tonight," said handler Kathy Garcia, who wore a sparkling blue dress that matched the glittering bow securing a pony tail atop her male dog's head.
“I feel like he put every foot where it should have gone.”
Lucy, a four-year-old borzoi, traveling from her home in Chiba, Japan to make the cut in the hound group. Owner Mai Ozeki said she was shocked when her dog, with its characteristically narrow head and silky coat, advanced to the finals. "I'm almost having a heart attack," Ozeki said.
Annabelle, a 3-year-old bulldog, won the non-sporting group. The pudgy, flat-faced dog from Raleigh, North California, was panting by the end of Monday's competition but usually keeps her cool, said owner Jean Hetherington. "She doesn't get excited, she's very easy," said Hetherington.
The sporting, working and terrier champions will be selected on Tuesday before the final event.