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Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Parker, father of award winning Uno, lives with his owner, Leah Bertagnolli, in Plain City. Parker has won top-dog honors 13 times.

Parker knows a thing or two about the spotlight, about once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Sure, these days he spends most of his mornings in the yard of his Plain City home, and most of his afternoons lying around the house, but don't let that fool you. There was a time when he was the top dog. Thirteen times, actually.

So maybe it came as no surprise to him when his son — his own fur and blood — beat out six of the world's best competitors Tuesday to claim the Westminster Kennel Club's top prize, becoming the first beagle in the show's 132-year history to do so.

Maybe it didn't surprise Parker, but it seemed to shock everybody else.

"It was amazing. I've never seen anything like that," said Leah Bertagnolli, one of Uno's breeders who lives in Plain City. "The crowd was charged. They gave him a standing ovation."

Overnight, the pooch became a media darling. One outlet dubbed him "America's newest single-name celebrity," next to Cher and Madonna.

Uno made stops Wednesday at NBC's "Today" and CBS's "The Early Show," and had lunch at a posh New York restaurant before visiting with Charlie Rose.

All the while, Bertagnolli said Parker seemed content in his daily routine in Plain City — waking up around 8, eating breakfast, tromping through the snow in the back yard and taking his afternoon nap.

"He lives a good life," said Bertagnolli, who has raised hundreds of dogs in her 20 years as a breeder. Uno was conceived in Plain City, the son of Parker and Legacy, a dog Bertagnolli co-owned with a St. Louis breeder.

Indeed, the days of show after show are behind the 6-year-old Parker, who retired after the 2006 Westminster competition with 13 best-in-shows under his collar, though he never claimed that top prize.

"When we retired him, it was heart wrenching for all of us," Bertagnolli said. The breeder, who knows how rare success can be in the show world, said Parker's was "once in a lifetime."

But Bertagnolli saw promise in a puppy she had, and asked Parker's handler, a South Carolina man named Aaron Wilkerson, if he might be interested in taking Uno.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Parker was put out to stud. For a time, Bertagnolli's daughter became Parker's handler, showing the dog in competitions for handlers under 17.

Tuesday, Parker and Bertagnolli watched as the judges crowned Uno the nation's best purebred. It was his 33rd best-in-show award since he debuted in January 2007.

"It just doesn't happen like that," Bertagnolli said. "Breeders like me, we struggle along and raise our puppies. It's all about the love of your breed."

She said the feeling she got Tuesday night was "once in a lifetime."

Of course, she had said that before.


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