It’s a Dog’s Life

Banana Joe, the winner of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

A steak dinner at a famous New York City restaurant.

A trip to the top of the Empire State Building.

And a part in a Broadway play.

Not exactly a rough life, is it?

Well, to be honest, it’s a dog’s life – that is, if you’re a dog named Banana Joe.

Who’s Banana Joe?

A pint-sized pooch with a “pushed-in” face, according to his handler.

But that didn’t stop him from becoming the top dog Tuesday night, at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.

You see, despite Banana Joe’s description, a lot of people just seem to find him irresistible.

“A fantastic face,” said the dog show’s top judge, Michael Dougherty, according to the New York Times.

The steak dinner was part of Banana Joe’s prize – along with a purple and yellow ribbon, a silver bowl and appearances on a bunch of TV talk shows on Wednesday.

The play he appeared in is called “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

He didn’t have a lot of time to learn his lines.

But he didn’t really need much time.

At the risk of being typecast, he played … a dog.

On Thursday morning, he was scheduled to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, before heading home and retiring from the dog show circuit as a champion.

“He’s won a lot of big shows, but none like this one,” said his elated handler, Ernesto Lara.

(The handler is the human who walks with the dog at the dog show.)

“He’s a fantastic affenpinscher,” gushed Dougherty, the finals judge, according to the New York Times.

What’s an affenpinscher?

It’s a dog breed that originated in Central Europe several hundred years ago, according to published reports.

(It’s pronounced “AFF-fen-pinch-her.”)

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the name of the breed comes from two German words – “affe,” which means “ape,” and “pinscher,” which is a type of hunting dog.

In Germany, their nickname is “Monkey Terrier,” according to a report by CBS New York.

And in France, their nickname translates as “little devil with a mustache.”

Banana Joe is the first affenpinscher ever to win first prize at the Westminster show.

In order to make it to the finals, he had to win the “toy” dog competition.

That’s the name of the category for the littlest dogs.

In the finals, he beat out six larger competitors – an American foxhound, a bichon frise (pronounced BEE-shahn free-ZAY), a German wirehaired pointer, a Portuguese water dog, a smooth fox terrier and an Old English sheepdog named Swagger, who was runner-up.

“This little fella seemed to want it a touch more,” Dougherty said, according to the Times.

“He was ‘on’ the minute he walked in,” he added, according the Associated Press.

According to one of Banana Joe’s owners, that’s just the way he is.

“He is very, very perky (and) playful,” said the owner, William Truesdale of Attleboro, Massachusetts, in an interview with Boston Globe writer Kristi Palma.  “He’s like a little wind-up toy.  He just goes and goes and goes.  And of course, that’s what charms the judges.”

According to Truesdale, Banana Joe speaks four languages – English, Dutch, German and Spanish.

But on Wednesday, the little dog with the monkey face didn’t have to answer questions in any of those languages.

He just had to look cute.