Malachy the Pekingese won "Best in Show" from the Westminster Kennel Club, but alas, he didn't win everyone's heart in a dog show televised on Valentine's night.
Some dog fanciers find that strange little face of the Pekingese adorable. Some view that waddling ball of fur as a wonder of nature, amazing yet inscrutable.
And others just ask, is that really a dog?
Malachy's victory didn't shock insiders to the world of dog judging, given that the 4-year-old had won 114 best in show awards during his brief career. But to ordinary viewers, the win prompted a large share of surprise and disappointment, judging by the commentary that has streamed online since Westminster judge Cindy Vogels rendered her decision Tuesday night.
True, a Pekingese is a little unusual compared with the dogs most people see every day. That seems to be what's behind the divide in the dog world after Malachy's win.
"Great news. One of mine, a Pekinese, won Best in Show. Life is good," commented Twitter user @SloTwitch in Ohio.
But in the Twitterverse, an online barometer of instant public opinion, many others didn't get the judge's choice. Or they just wanted another one of the seven finalists to win.
"Really #Westminster? You pick the Pekingese, aka 'Mop' or 'Cousin [Itt]' or 'Troll doll' over the cute #dachshund? I think not!" said another Twitter user, @jnunnelly in North Carolina.
For the record, the Westminster Kennel Club describes the Pekingese not only as a genuine dog breed, but also as an ancient one "originating in China dating back to 800 A.D." It has been a favorite pet of the Chinese, European, and American aristocracies, the club's website adds. (This dog show is a reminder that, yes, there is something you can call an American aristocracy.)
Toy dogs like the Peke aren't necessarily a favored category at the Westminster show, though. Malachy is the show's 10th winner from the toy group in 104 years, and the fourth Pekingese as best in show. The last toy dog to win was a papillon in 1999.
Plenty of people with seats in Madison Square Garden liked Malachy. As the Associated Press described it, "The crowd ... grew louder with every tiny step Malachy took, and he sure took a lot of them just to get halfway around the dog show ring."
But lots of people also liked the dachshund, the Irish setter, and other finalists.
A common theme on Twitter: One of those others deserved the title. To quote a few: "The Doberman was robbed last night!" "The German Shepherd got ripped off." A fan of the Dalmatian said, "I'm done with this whole dog show thing."
Of course, there is always room for quibbling in a contest decided by judges. These seven dogs emerged as paragons of their breeds and groups, from about 2,000 contenders. So it's little wonder that they all have their fans.
In the end, Westminster 2012 offered up a winner who captivated many people, befuddled others, and left plenty of others grousing.