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Echoes of Lugoff’s Uno as beagle wins at Westminster

Miss P is 2008 winner’s grandniece

Posted: February 19, 2015 4:52 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Courtesy the Westminster Kennel Club/

Uno competes in the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show where he won Best in Show, becoming the first beagle ever to win the top prize. Uno lived and trained in Lugoff when he won seven years ago.

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Miss P became only the second beagle in history to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. The win came Tuesday after a late-night 20-minute-long decision by a judge who favored the 4-year-old beagle over the crowd favorite Old English sheepdog. Winning must run in the blood. Miss P is the grandniece of the first beagle to do so: Uno, who won in 2008.

Kershaw County basked in Uno’s win seven years ago. A week after Westminster, Uno appeared at Camden’s Scott Park where fans discovered he was living in and had trained in Lugoff under the watchful eye of handler Aaron Wilkerson, an Austin, Texas, native. At the time, Wilkerson said he knew Uno had the “right stuff” when he first met the future winner at 6 months old. Uno, not quite 3 when he won, is now almost 10 and retired in Texas, according to national media reports.

“I knew he was going to do very special things,” Wilkerson said in 2008. “I just didn’t know he would do them so fast.”

Uno was bred in Belleville, Ill., by a woman named Kathy Weickert, who co-owned him with Leah Bertagnolli of Utah; Caroline Dowell of Austin, Texas; Eddie Dziuk of Columbia, Mo. (who also co-owns Miss P, according to the Westminster Kennel Club’s website); and Jon Woodring of Advance, N.C. With Wilkerson’s addition, the became “Team Uno.”

“The reason there were (multiple) owners is because all of us, as a team, wanted to be a part of him. We knew that he was going to do special things. That’s why we all thought it was only right for this to be a team thing,” Wilkerson said seven years ago.

Following his win, Uno enjoyed the winning silver bowl, a gourmet steak dinner, hobnobbing at parties and meeting morning talk hosts Matt Lauer, Regis Philbin and Martha Stewart. Uno signed “paw-tographs” at a dog show in Greenville, made other appearances on behalf of the Westminster Kennel Club and returned home to Lugoff to runaround with playmates.

By the time Uno won the Best in Show that February night in 2008, he already had 32 titles to his credit. “Uno fever” built as he made headlines earlier in the week by winning the hound portion of the show. Even ESPN “Around the Horn” panelist Jay Mariotti, of the Chicago Sun-Times, urged those heading to the show to cheer Uno on.

“I did feel that there was a little going on, but I tried not think about it too much and try not to worry about it,” Wilkerson said in 2008. “All I wanted was for Uno to go in there and have a good time and be the great show dog that he is. And I’ll tell you, Tuesday night, he gave the performance of a lifetime.”

Including his trademark bay, which the Best in Show judge and those in attendance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden heard both before and after being selected. The crowd responded with thunderous applause.

“Tuesday night, Uno owned that ring,” Wilkerson said seven years ago as Uno bayed for the small entourage gathered at Scott Park. “He owned everything in there. It was all so perfect. It just ended up so perfectly. It was so nice.”

According to national media reports, Miss P’s selection Tuesday night stunned the audience, but not the way her granduncle’s did in 2008. They had been rooting for Swagger, the Old English sheepdog, not the 4-year-old beagle with the same 15-inch length of Uno. Analysts note Miss P -- while “adorable,” wrote the New York Times -- does not have Uno’s personality. She quietly accepted the Best in Show accolades; Miss P will now retire to motherhood.

Of course, the question always asked of her famous relative is “Why is he called Uno?” Wilkerson answered that in 2008. The winning beagle’s official name is “Ch. K-Run’s Park Me in First.”

“It’s a funny story … especially when I saw that he had a sister. I didn’t quite understand it. I said, ‘What’s the deal with this?’ She said that the first time she saw him, she said he was going to be the very best. And I’ll tell you, he’s lived up to his name, for sure. He’s America’s dog.”


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