Atop a royal purple blanket arranged on the floor of a midtown Manhattan hotel, surrounded by about as many handlers and press people as your average presidential candidate, Siba is resting. Her immaculately styled hair, all enviable volume and glossy Bettie Page bangs, looks better than mine ever has in my entire life. Siba is noticeably silent and refuses to make eye contact, mostly because it is impossible to see her face under the hair. Multiple people approach asking to say hello, which she will graciously oblige, but only after this interview is over.
Siba is a 3-year-old black standard poodle, though from far away and also from up close, she doesnt resemble a dog as much as a topiary somebody wished would come to life. Every sculpted fur tuft is as close as one can come, mathematically, to a perfect sphere. But not only is she a dog, she is currently Americas most famous dog: on Tuesday, Siba won the coveted Best in Show at the 2020 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, a victory that was followed by a whirlwind day of press appearances and a celebratory lunch at Sardis.
Her win was a fraught one, though, as the obvious crowd favorite was a 5-year-old golden retriever named Daniel who had the audience going wild chanting his name. (Daniel, for his part, is recovering well: his owner told the New York Times that the morning after his loss, he dug himself a nice hole in the backyard and decided to lie in it.)
We love to see it.
GQ spoke to Sibas handler, Pennsylvania resident Connie S. Unger, about her dogs dietSiba famously ate a McDonalds grilled chicken sandwich before the competitionelaborate grooming routine, not being the crowd favorite, and more.
GQ: What time does Siba wake up in the morning?
Connie S. Unger: She wakes up when I do. If I want to sleep in, she wont get up. So sometimes its 6:30 in the morning, sometimes its 8:30. And then she goes out for her run.
Whats the run like?
She has a pretty big paddock field that she goes out in. She really likes to run there, and then shell go out with my son and they just kind of do shenanigans.
Does she play fetch or do anything like that?
She plays fetch with himshe fetches him. He runs and giggles and laughs and she just runs circles. And if he runs away, its actually awesome, because she will go get him and bring it back.
How much active time does she need a day?
To keep her in condition for this show, a fair bit. We actually have her outside running for maybe two hours a day. But when shes not in a competitive condition, sometimes we get lazy. She turns into a couch potato. She eats lots of pancakes.
She has a really great food shes on, ProPlan, and its always chicken-flavored. And then she pretty much gets any snack my son feeds her.
Yeah, I read that shes really into chicken. Is that a poodle thing?
Loves chicken. I think thats a her thing. Her kibble has to be chicken, her treats have to be chicken. Its all about the chicken.
With handler Connie S. Unger post-victory.
Can you tell me more about her grooming routine? Her hairstyle is even more involved than I was expecting.
Its a lot. Her bath usually takes about two to three hours. She has a very dense, thick coat and to properly blow it out takes about two, three hours.
And how often does she get that treatment?
Once a week.
What are the shampoo and conditioner brands that you use?
There are some dog brands the shampoo and conditioner we really like is Coat Handler. Every now and then well switch to a people thing, well use Pantene and different products like that.
How do you go about sculpting her, and how often does she get a trim like this?
Its all scissors. I do everything myself. Thats the nice thing about poodles: the hair will just grow and grow and grow. So she gets trimmed like this for every competition but in between, we dont really bother. She can get pretty scruffy.
Does she ever get stressed out, and how does she relax?
She never gets stressed out by the competition at all. In fact, I think she would be more stressed out if we were to ever leave her at home. A lot of show dogs that really love this, they live off that energy, the constant attention. Poodles just absorb that attention, thats all they want.
I think you said in another interview that she knows when shes won. Can you elaborate on that some more?
She definitely knows shes won. For example, last night, the energy in that building was so intense that she was just on her toes the whole time. She gave 110% the whole night.
What was the preparation like going into the show?
Actually, she slept most of the day. And then we got to the show around 5 oclock in the afternoon. She got her feet washed and stuff like that. We perfected the trim a little bit more.
Was there one moment when you thought shes clinched this?
Not at all. He said the poodle and I just remember standing there, thinking, that cant be right. And then everyone came up and congratulated me and here we are.
I read some reports that she was not the crowd favoriteDaniel the golden retriever was. How have you two been handling that?
Actually, I think its so funny because the dog show community is a smaller community but it is one big family. And we all think its so funny hearing the crowd react like that. The lady that shows the golden is a dear friend of mine, she is so professional, so amazing, I look up to her so much and that dog is beautiful. Any of us couldve won last night and we all wouldve been so happy for the other. I know shes happy for us.
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Originally Appeared on GQ