Westminster’s Best In Show

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was on television yesterday when my cousin texted urgently:

“Check out that bloodhound!”

I tuned in. I was immediately introduced to Trumpet the bloodhound, who paraded across the purple carpet, his handler trotting beside him, frantically trying to keep up.

The Westminster Dog Show is America’s second oldest sporting event after the Kentucky Derby. And Trumpet is—drumroll please—the first bloodhound to win Westminster’s best in show prize.

Trumpet is your quintessential blood. His loose skin looks like he is wearing a bear-skin robe nine sizes too big. He has enormous lion-paw feet attached to four telephone-pole legs. His prodigious nose can smell what you had for dinner on Saturday night, June 23, 1979.

I have had a longtime love affair with bloodhounds. I’ve had the pleasure of being owned by four hounds in my life, and they have been my greatest friends. There is something special about the breed.

Maybe it’s the gallons of drool they produce. Or maybe it’s the way they shake their coats, causing stringy, snot-like globules of saliva to fling onto walls and furniture, leaving long tendrils of mucous dangling freely from the ceiling fan.

Or maybe it’s the bloodhound’s voice. A bloodhound does not bark. They bay. Each bloodhound I have owned has had a unique voice that sounds like a lifelong smoker singing Whitney Houston in the shower.

Bloodhounds are obstinate creatures. They do what they want. When they want. How they want.

There is an old saying among bloodhound owners: You do not “train” a bloodhound; you drink.

Also, most bloodhounds have a genetic condition called dysmetropsia, which is a size-preception handicap. This brain disorder causes 100-pound creatures to mistakenly view themselves as six-pound animals. Which is why bloodhounds believe it is their constitutional right to sleep in people’s laps, even if this causes severe groinal injury to lap owners.

My first experience with bloodhounds was with my uncle’s bloods, I was a boy. He had two hounds for hunting. Their names were Pete and Repeat.

Pete and Repeat slept on my uncle’s bed, they ate from his plate, they rode shotgun in his Ford. He bathed them once per presidential administration.

My uncle’s dogs were black-and-tan bloodhounds with black bodies and red jowls that came down past their ankles. Their long ears were velvet, their skin was so floppy that a boy could get lost within the folds of their necks.

When I was a kid, Pete and Repeat were exactly my height. They slept all day, lying beneath my uncle’s 40-foot Fleetwood trailer home, pressing their vitals against the cool dirt. They snored so loudly that you could hear them in the adjoining county. They cost more than my uncle’s truck.

Whenever Pete and Repeat got hungry, they climbed through the giant hole in my uncle’s kitchen floor and started scratching his refrigerator door. Which was why my uncle’s Frigidare was covered in claw marks.

Sometimes, for entertainment value my uncle would feed Pete and Repeat beer. The dogs preferred Miller High Life, but would drink Pabst in a pinch. My uncle never gave them too much to drink, however, because he said Repeat was a mean drunk.

Repeat was female. She was fastidious and motherly, and liked things just so.

Pete, on the other hand, was big, lumbering and—how do I put this?—not Stephen Hawking. Pete lived by the moral code of all male dogs, which is: “If you can’t play with it, eat it, or mate with it, just pee on it and walk away.”

They were good dogs. And my favorite thing in the world was watching my uncle hunt with them. The experience enchanted me. It was like entering another era.

Watching those hounds work was perhaps the greatest part of my boyhood summers, ruining me forever, leaving me with a misplaced romanticism for hounds.

After sunset, my uncle would turn the dogs loose and say, “Go get’em.” The animals would fly toward the horizon like thoroughbreds, noses to the wind.

Whereupon we would march through the woods, wearing miner’s lamps, listening for their yowling voices in the far off, tracking raccoons.

My uncle knew his dog’s mouths from six miles away. He could hear them when nobody else could.

It was a spiritual thing, seeing those dogs run.

But my most vivid memory is walking with my uncle in the dark woods one night, and in a moment of quiet reflection, he said, “You know something? When I die, I hope I go to a dog’s heaven instead of man’s.”

I’ve never forgotten that, and probably never will.

So congratulations, Trumpet, on winning the 146th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s best in show. In a competitive world of blow-dried, Aqua Net-sprayed, fluffy, pedigreed, cotton-ball dogs, you make drool cool.


  1. Melanie - June 24, 2022 8:50 am

    Very Happy News! ❤️🐾👏🏻👍🏻😊🏆🥇

  2. Steve McCaleb - June 24, 2022 8:53 am

    I know those show dogs have a wonderful, pampered life…but I feel sorry for ‘em. I bet none of them have ever chased a chipmunk, chewed on a recently deceased cow’s leg, bit the mailman on the hiny, rolled in a dead possum’s carcass, treed the neighbors cat, or licked your stoopid brother-in-law awake after he conked out on your front porch after one too many PBRs. You know, all the stuff that makes a dog’s life worthwhile. Oh well, I rekon every rose has it’s thorn.

  3. Ann Thompson - June 24, 2022 9:37 am

    👍🏻Beautiful dog.

  4. Emily Ray - June 24, 2022 10:27 am

    Thank you, Sean! Takes me back to WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS!

  5. Donna George-Moskovitz - June 24, 2022 10:41 am

    I needed this one. Thank you. Made me think of my bird dogs twenty some years ago. And this grandmother watched that dog show when she was a kid.

  6. Susan W Fitch - June 24, 2022 11:15 am

    I have never “owned” a dog! They “own” me! They’re therapeutic- one way to navigate living in these tough times. I love the dogs in my life and truly miss the ones who are no longer here.

  7. Bobby - June 24, 2022 11:50 am

    Great tribute to one of America’s sweethearts— the bloodhound. ❤️

  8. RichardC - June 24, 2022 11:54 am

    I have to give it to you, Sean. I never thought I would see in print the words, “you make drool cool”. As someone who has been owned by a bloodhound (Copper) before I can identify closely with this posting. One day I look forward to seeing Copper again in Heaven— be it Dog’s Heaven or Man’s. Mark Lowery, the Christian humorist, insists that dogs go to Heaven and he uses Psalms 36:6 to support his supposition. Thanks for acknowledging a breed of dog that has been under appreciated for many, many years.

  9. carolanne78 - June 24, 2022 12:38 pm

    As soon as I saw Trumpet win on TV, I thought of you! As most people know dog is god, backwards. We don’t deserve them, but they put up with us. Did you see how Trumpet was like “stop!” when his trainer was hugging his neck ; ) I am so happy when a breed that has never won before, Finally Wins!!

  10. Kim - June 24, 2022 12:41 pm

    Love this. I own 5 redbone mixes at this time. I love a good bay! And, I do not hunt so they don’t either. Hope it’s not a disservice to them. They are sweet but they like to run off if not connected to a leash. So drool and be cool but don’t run away, stay.

  11. Paul McCutchen - June 24, 2022 12:47 pm

    The Blood Hound also shows that “country folks pets” are now at the top of the pedigree list. If you want to check out your physical condition, keep up with a blood hound when they are on a trail.

  12. Barb Stratton - June 24, 2022 1:03 pm

    Just curious: where does the America’s Cup stand in longest-running sporting events?

  13. Patricia Gibson - June 24, 2022 1:09 pm

    Great story!

  14. Misha Benson - June 24, 2022 1:09 pm

    Westminster is my Super Bowl…I love it that the Bloodhound won! And here is what I have to say to hoity-toity dog owners….DOODLE THAT!!!

  15. Emily S - June 24, 2022 1:28 pm

    “You can’t train them” no truer words have been said about the Bloodhound. I fully believe that even the working hounds just do what they are asked because there is a good skritching and snack at the end. Our Bloodhound Clifford is an old man in a world where he can’t chase the chickens we have but he can take the peanut butter toast right from our toddler’s mouth. He’s a good boy even when he gets on the counter top, jumps thru a window screen(squirrel) or takes the back out of a sandwich. Thank you for writing about Trumpet…we were so happy to see a bloodhound win, and such a beautiful beast too not too wrinkly and super stout. I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into…Clifford is our first hound,though my husband was raised with Basset hounds, and idk if we can get away with not having on because my son adores Clifford. Sorry I wrote you a book!

    • Suzanne - June 24, 2022 5:08 pm

      Basset Hounds! I love all dogs but I’ve been owned by some amazing Bassets in my life. Just like Bloodhounds they think they are lap dogs and a have a voice that is unique. I sure do miss those hounds. ❤️❤️❤️

  16. Barry Surratt - June 24, 2022 1:50 pm

    Thx Sean… though I’ve never wanted a bloodhound you’ve convinced me I don’t want one – ever though I love Blake Shelton’s song, Ol’ Red! Keep up the good work!

  17. Wendy Oliver - June 24, 2022 2:21 pm

    Sean, the scenes you paint with your stories draw me in and for a brief few moments I am there. This morning, I can see the drool hanging from the ceiling fan. Thanks for sharing your stories. I look forward to them every day.

  18. Jean Dunlap - June 24, 2022 2:23 pm

    Saw the dog show and found myself rooting for Trumpet…your column told me why heart went out to the bloodhound! Thanks, Sean

  19. Peggy M. Windham - June 24, 2022 3:21 pm

    I love it!💜

  20. Nancy Carnahan - June 24, 2022 3:34 pm

    Well, ypu’ve convinced me. No bloodhounds for me. I can admit they are beautiful animals, but drool turns me off, even if it is cool drool.

  21. Dennis Perry - June 24, 2022 3:42 pm

    My Aunt Francis was married to a Tennessee man for a couple of years. They lived in a ramshackle shack near the Windsor Springs artesian well. The water was bottled and my cousin Charles delivered it to business offices in nearby Augusta, GA. They rented the house from the owner of the well. He had an old hound dog who slept under the porch. He would take me and my cousin Tony coon hunting at night in the nearby woods when we were about ten years old. I can still remember the sound of that blue tick hound running through the woods on a moonlit night chasing raccoons. Great memories.

  22. tammymoody - June 24, 2022 3:43 pm

    Proud to be from the same small hometown as Trumpet the Bloodhound!!

  23. Donna Vildibill - June 24, 2022 4:48 pm

    I watched the end of the show and was completely amazed the judge stepped out of the lofty tower and named a man’s dog, Trumpet the Bloodhound, as Best in Show! I immediately thought of you and your wonderful hounds. Now, let’s finally get a Golden Retriever or a long-coat Dachshund next year!!

  24. H. J. Patterson - June 24, 2022 5:38 pm

    Finally a hound wins best in show which is rare at Westminster. I had the vertically challenged variety of a bloodhound, bassets. Same demeanor just closer to the earth.

  25. Bonnie - June 24, 2022 5:46 pm

    You never disappoint. You can even make drool appealing!

  26. Gina Manley - June 24, 2022 6:23 pm

    You were the first person I thought of when gorgeous Trumpet won. He is majestic. Thanks for bringing light, laughter, and heartwarming tears to my inbox daily.

  27. Chasity Davis Ritter - June 24, 2022 7:11 pm

    It’s really awesome when the dog bread that is closest to your heart wins at Westminster. The only dog bread we were ever truly in love with was beagles We had a very special girl named Coco who I referred to as my daughter We loved her that much and we were so excited the year that Uno the beagle won in 2015. Really excited about your bloodhound win now for you. That’s awesome!

  28. Eric webb - June 24, 2022 7:22 pm

    In a world full of division, distrust and animosity, the pure love our dearest four legged friend, God bless em.

  29. Sondra - June 24, 2022 7:23 pm

    When I saw Trumpet win I thought of you. No one loves bloodhounds as much as you.

  30. Linda Moon - June 24, 2022 8:07 pm

    If Westminster had a Cat Show I would’ve watched. You should see my two Turkish Van cats, Sean. Piano Man, a Turkish Van cat, swims and plays the piano! Congratulations to the the Dog Show Winner! The aforementioned Cats are winners in my book, too!

  31. Alexander Locke - June 24, 2022 8:32 pm

    I’ve never cared much for dog drool, but I’ve had my fair share of droolers. I’ll never forget Brandy, a 130 pound mountain of hair and drool St. Bernard. She palled around with Ben, our German Shepherd Lab mix who loved chomping water from the hose on hot days. Those hot days weren’t Brandy’s favorites, but she dealt with them like a champ (and frequent naps). I doubt bugs bothered her much because of the thick coat of hair and tangles she wore. She wasn’t going to win any awards for beauty, but I thought she was the best dog ever.

  32. MAM - June 24, 2022 9:59 pm

    I loved this one! I’m definitely a dog person, but not a fan of drooling ones. But I’m happy for you and his owner that Trumpet won.

  33. Pat D - June 24, 2022 10:17 pm

    I also was so very happy Trumpet won,he pranced around as to say I don’t know about the rest of you guys but I came here to win this thing!

  34. Pat Patterson - June 25, 2022 1:24 am

    Your description of “hunting ‘coon” brought back memories of when I was 9 and my Dad would take me along on late Fall nighttime coon hunts. The old men (to me) would build a fire on some remote gravel road (S. MS) and tell stories while listening for the dogs. They would get excited when the dogs were baying and the dogs “timbre” would change if they had a coon treed. I’d run along, following them closely through brambles and swamps, places you wouldn’t go in daylight! It was surprising men didn’t come home with more injuries than they did, worst usually being skinned shins from running into knee-high stumps in the dark!! I’m 74 now, very “hard of hearing”, but I still can hear those hounds baying every now and then…… thanks for your time…. and your stories. May you have a blessed day.
    Pat Patterson

  35. Mary - June 25, 2022 11:29 am

    I I laughed so hard At this one! I needed that. I lost my husband one year ago today! Thank you!

  36. Jackye Thompson - June 25, 2022 1:24 pm

    You are a good man Peace of the Lord.

  37. Mary Ann Hanley - June 25, 2022 4:17 pm

    I prefer to admire bloodhounds from a distance. Thanks. Mary Ann

  38. Bonnie Specchio - June 26, 2022 11:52 am

    Proud to say that Trumpet hails from St. Joseph, Illinois in east central Illinois near my home. His owners are Flessners – a large clan in this area. What a dog!

  39. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - June 27, 2022 12:51 am



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